Eunice and Her Mother

I’m inspired by the unconditional love my mother gives. I say this to her often but it bears repeating: I love you, Mom.

What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

Survival. I learned how to survive through thick and thin from both my mother and my maternal grandmother. They (and my entire extended family) persevered through the pain of Taiwan’s political oppression, through the imprisonment of my great uncle Reverend Dr. Chun-Ming Kao, in addition to keeping home life as nurturing and stable as possible.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

One of my earliest memories of my mother is of watching her dance. My mother was and is very physically active. She took me everywhere with her when I was a toddler in Taipei– to the open-air markets, to the bank, to buy cat food for our gorgeous Persian, and to her dance class. I remember sitting quietly in the corner of the dance studio, watching the women practice ballet moves in pink leotards and tights. I thought they were all beautiful, my mom most of all.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Multiple things: Do what makes you happy. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Stand up for yourself and don’t take crap from anybody. Never forget where you came from.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mother, in her 60s, is enjoying life to the fullest. She and my father are even going to Bhutan later this week for the first time.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

I’m inspired by the unconditional love my mother gives.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My mother and I have had our ups and downs; I was not an easy kid to raise. Overcoming the rocky times has brought us closer. She is my confidante.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I say this to her often but it bears repeating: I love you, Mom.


Andrea and Libby

I have learned from adopting my daughter that I am capable of loving much more then I had ever imagined.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? 妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

My mother is not Taiwanese, nor am I. My beautiful daughter is Taiwanese. I hope to teach her great pride in her heritage.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I remember my Mother always teaching me that I could do anything as long as I tried.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your daughter? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

I have learned from adopting my daughter that I am capable of loving much more then I had ever imagined.

Tell us about the ways that your daughter makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My daughter makes me proud every day. She has a caring heart and a compassionate spirit. She shows joy easily, and brings cheer to those around her.

Tell us about how your daughter inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My daughter inspires me to be the best Mother and best person I can be. I want to teach her that she is full of promise and possibilities.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your daughter changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My baby is growing up. She is becoming more independent. Sometimes that makes me sad, but I know my job is to teach her and prepare her for the world.

What is one thing that you would like daughter to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want her to know that she is stronger than she thinks, that she can tackle anything she puts her mind to. I want her to remember to let her light shine to the whole world and leave a positive mark with her life. Most of all, I want her to know that I love her without measure.

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

We adopted our daughter from Taiwan when she was 4 1/2 months old.


Alicia and ChiuLan

I owe my love for Taiwanese culture to my mom. Since I was a baby, she has consciously immersed me in an environment where I can appreciate Taiwan…


As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

For as long as I can remember, my most meaningful conversations with my mom have taken place on car rides. She’s always chauffeuring me to classes that I wanted to take and events that I wanted to go to and all the other extra-curriculars that make a kid’s life fun. (This may or may not be my cover story for being scared of driving on my own.)
Over the years, I’ve noticed the subtle shift in how our talks are conducted. When I was little, she would take the time to teach me life lessons or, as in one of my earlier memories, recite the multiplication table. Now, we discuss events, international, national, local, personal– I can talk to her about anything, and she just brilliantly strikes the balance between loving, mentoring, listening, and mom-ing.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want to give my most heartfelt, public thanks to my mom for everything she’s done for me. Only she knows the extent of that. I would also like to note that yes, I am studying for my upcoming AP test and no, I did not waste hours typing this up. Mom, don’t worry!

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

I owe my love for Taiwanese culture to my mom. Since I was a baby, she has consciously immersed me in an environment where I can appreciate Taiwan, whether that means taking yearly trips back to see our extended family, starting a Taiwanese school for me because Saturday afternoon Chinese class just wasn’t cutting it, or cooking straight-from-Taiwan meals from scratch every night for the past seventeen years (though she still won’t teach me because she thinks I’ll burn the kitchen down). It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how much she’s devoted to helping me reach back to my Taiwanese roots after she and my dad uprooted their own lives to give me the American opportunity.


Keresa and Jane

As time passes, my relationship with my mother has become more casual. She is more like a friend than a mom.


Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I remember my mom accidentally burning her wrist with hot water, and she had to be sent to the emergency hospital very late at night. Even though her wrist hurt a lot, she was really brave, and the best part was that our whole family was there with her at the hospital.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

The most important thing I learned from my mom is that it is okay to be childish sometimes, that it is okay to just be yourself.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

As time passes, my relationship with my mother has become more casual. She is more like a friend than a mom.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I love her amidst all the ups and downs!


Eryn and Meiling

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

How to sing? How to cook? How to crack lame jokes? It’s almost impossible to pick just one, but a valuable lesson I learned from my mother is to be understanding. I like that I get along well with others, and that would not be possible without listening to and understanding the people I interact with. My mom builds lasting relationships with the people in her life by understanding their differences, and not being quick to judge. That has definitely been the key for me as well.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

As a kid, I took my mom for granted. Each day, she would braid my hair differently, cook three delicious meals, and sit next to me at the piano for hours. I never took the time to thank her for the things she did, nor did I realize I had anything to be thankful for. When she finally came back after moving out for a couple of years, I made sure I made the most of my second chance with her. Even though I am now busy with law school, we still talk almost every day. We can talk for hours about anything, everything, or nothing at all. But at the end of every phone call, I make sure to tell her, “I love you, mommy.”

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I love her more than words can express. I always hear she’s everyone’s favorite Chinese school teacher, everyone’s favorite chef, everyone’s favorite singer. But I’m fortunate to call her mine. She inspires me every day to be the best and happiest version of myself. I’m thankful for everything she is and does, and someday, I hope to be half the woman she is.


Angela and April

I’ve come to understand the reasons behind my mom’s nagging, and without knowing it, I’ve incorporated many of her 大道理 into my life.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

She’s taught me that being Taiwanese is about actively pursuing and learning about my culture. She’s encouraged me to read the Chinese newspaper, taken me to Taiwanese plays and operas, and of course, cooked me tons of delicious traditional Taiwanese food. I definitely appreciate how she has emphasized the importance of becoming knowledgeable about my roots and to not just
passively dismiss my identity as Taiwanese.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Treasure every moment with family! Since a couple of years ago, my mom has gone back to Taiwan 2-3 times a year just to be with my aging grandma. When she’s back in Taiwan, she accompanies my grandma to physical therapy, helps with repairs and renovations in my grandma’s apartment, and takes time to just sit and listen to my grandmother. She’s the kind of daughter after which I want to model myself.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I’ve come to understand the reasons behind my mom’s nagging, and without knowing it, I’ve incorporated many of her 大道理 into my life. Nowadays, I feel that I can tell my mom anything, and I call her almost everyday. I share the stories that are going on in my life with her, and she tells me the latest scandalous (not really) family news or the interesting things she’s heard from her friends. Yeah, my mom’s pretty cool.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

Mom, you are amazing! Thank you so much for everything you have done for me–for sacrificing your time and energy in caring for me. I love you very, very much and I’m glad that we can gossip and laugh over the silliest things.


Monica and Tina

Even though we may be away from home, we never forget about you.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

My mother always wanted me to love myself for who I was. She saw the importance of self respect and value in every individual. As her daughter, I can say that my mother has not only inspired me to be an amazing person, but a proud Taiwanese American. Growing up in a small white suburban neighborhood, I felt different and disconnected from my peers. I wanted PB & J sandwiches for lunch and golden locks like my best friend. My mother saw my struggles as a child and took the chance to turn my insecurities around. In the fourth grade, she decided to teach my whole class about Taiwanese Lunar New Year. Every student had their names translated into Chinese characters, kept in small red envelopes for good luck.That day left a strong impression on me because I was finally proud to be Taiwanese. Even better, I couldn’t help but think how cool my mom was.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

If people were to asked me where I got my optimism, I would say my mother. My mother has the cutest personality. Her lovely smile and youthful heart can always brighten someone’s day. Because of her I learn to approach life differently. She is a constant reminder to me to have a forgiving heart, yet a strong will to work hard. She has never made expectations because I was already her greatest joy. Her tremendous love and attitude towards life has showed me the importance of being a passionate person who gives life a chance given when you want to give up.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

Mom, the one thing I would like you to know is how amazing of a mother you are. Parenting is not an easy thing, yet you still persist to teach us everyday. I know that after Patrick goes to college, you may feel empty nested. Take this time to explore and treat yourself to endless adventures. You have prepared both Patrick and I for college. Even though we may be away from home, we never forget about you. We aren’t letting go, but growing up to finally be that person who you’ve always believed in.


Vivian and Lendy

My mother inspires me by her willingness to help others out. It makes me want to aid people in need.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned that being Taiwanese is something I should be very proud of. I learned about the difficulties my grandfather had to face during the Japanese invasion. I learned about the poor conditions my grandparents had to face under the Japanese rule. I learned that my grandparents had strong Japanese influences, and those influences impacted my mother greatly. I learned that even though my ancestors came from China, that does not stop me from being Taiwanese. My mom taught me to embrace being Taiwanese and to be proud of it. She taught me to respond to ethnicity questions that I am Taiwanese, not Chinese. She made me realize how important my heritage is. According to my mother, “If you do not know your heritage, you do not know who you are.”

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

My earliest and most favorite memory of my mother was when we went to Sea World together. We went on a wet water ride called Shipwreck Rapids. My mother did not want me to get drenched, so when we arrived at the waterfall, she took her jacket off and covered me with it. It was during that special moment that my father took a photo of us. I love that picture. I always look back at that moment. I can still remember that day as if it were yesterday. We had so much fun together.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

I learned that my attitude will basically dictate my whole life. If I have a bad attitude, I won’t go anywhere in life. However, if I change that attitude, I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

I love how my mother is so easy to talk to. She is just so relaxed. I can talk to her about anything and not be afraid of her judging me. She accepts me for who I am. She never tries to change me. I am proud that my mother has complete trust in me. I love how she is just so compassionate, benevolent and amiable. I love her kind heart. I love her ability to constantly want to help out the poor and the less fortunate. She always goes out of her way to help others. I admire how, despite the countless number of times people had mistreated her, she carries on as if nothing has happened. She always tells me to forgive others and to never hate anyone. She would tell me to look at my fingers and explain to me that the different lengths represents the various types of people in the world. She would say that not everyone is like me, but I just have to deal with that. People do not always see eye to eye and that it is impossible for everyone to like me.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me by her willingness to help others out. It makes me want to aid people in need. Her kindness motivates me to treat others with an open heart as well.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My relationship with my mother has become even stronger than ever before. The bond between my mother and I is unbreakable. As the years have gone by, my mother and I have learned new things about each other.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I love you, mom. I know I don’t say it that often, but I do. I love you very much. I am very sorry that you constantly have to put up with my moodiness. For every time that I have ever lashed out at you, I am so sorry. I truly appreciate everything you do for me. I am sorry if I have ever hurt your feelings. I did not mean to.

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

You are the best, mom! Don’t ever change who you are! I love you just the way you are.


May and Her Mother

I am extremely grateful for all that my mother has sacrificed for my sister and me to give us the life she never had: one that is full of opportunities and devoid of hardships.


Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

In 1983, my father left for the United States to start his graduate school program shortly before my first birthday. My mother remained in Taiwan, and for the next three years, she worked two jobs to pay for my father’s tuition and to provide for my sister and me. My parents wanted my sister and me to have the opportunities they missed when they were growing up and to not be subjected to the same hardships they had to endure, so our family immigrated to the United States in 1986. It was a big transition for my mother. She gave up her stable career as a teacher, and she had to bid farewell to all her friends and family in Taiwan. In the beginning we had very little money and depended on welfare handouts from my pre-school. I remember for five years, my mother bought no new clothes, and she slept on a flimsy mattress with no headboard, no box springs, and no bed frame. To provide for us, my mother took on many side-jobs since she could not obtain a full-time job without a work visa. Now that we are financially stable, my mother still lives very frugally, so she can give generously to those that are less fortunate. She is involved with various local non-profit organizations in our community, both through volunteering and donating to worthy causes. In addition, my mother sponsored two of my cousins in Brazil to attend college, and supported two children going to high school in rural China through the Peach Foundation.

My mother is such an inspiration and has played an integral role in shaping who I am today. She has taught me that the true meaning of success is not measured by a person’s wealth, but rather by a person’s heart, and this translates into giving back to others. She stresses the importance of philanthropy and has inspired me to donate both my time and money to causes I feel most passionate about. My mother has taught me by example the most valuable lesson in life and that is to live modestly, to act humbly, and to give generously.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I am extremely grateful for all that my mother has sacrificed for my sister and me to give us the life she never had: one that is full of opportunities and devoid of hardships. My mother has given up so much in life to ensure that we would never have to endure the same hardships she did. For example, my mother has worked at the same job for 20 years just so she could help pay for my sister and my college tuition. She commutes three hours every day to and from work and earns an hourly wage that is less than what I earned straight out of college. As a result, my sister and I do not have college loans or debt to stress about, unlike most of our peers.

On a recent mother-daughter trip to New York, my mother and I went shopping. I told her that I would pay for anything and everything she wants from the store. It absolutely broke my heart to see that my mother gravitated towards all the sale items, and that she would put things that were listed at retail price back on the rack. It made me realize that she is so used to saving every penny to provide for my sister and me, that her frugal ways are so deeply ingrained in her that it is still very apparent even 10 years after my sister and I graduated from college.

As Asians, we are taught to suppress our emotions, and as a result, I do not express my appreciation often. I know words will never amount to the gratitude I feel in my heart, but I would like to take this opportunity to tell my mother how special she is to me.

Mommy, THANK YOU for all that you do for our family and for me. I would not be where I am today without your love and support. I appreciate you so much, and I want you to know that everything you have sacrificed for Jie Jie and me has not been in vain. I don’t say this often enough, but I LOVE YOU!!!


Terina and Gloria

With time, my relationship with my mother has grown stronger and stronger. Just like wine, with age brings more ripeness but in our case: happiness.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned that we must be proud of our heritage no matter what.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I remember my mother would always let me into her bed at night regardless of the fact that she had warned me not to watch horror films.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

I have learned that no matter what, my mother will always be there for me.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mother makes me proud because even though she is a working parent, she tries her best to take the time to spend quality time with me. On even the most stressful days, she will come home from work to stay with me.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me to work hard for what I want and to always put my best foot forward.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

With time, my relationship with my mother has grown stronger and stronger. Just like wine, with age brings more ripeness but in our case: happiness.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I would like my mother to know that I am so grateful and forever in debt to her for all the things she has done for me.


Amy and Wawa

I want my mom to know that she is my hero and she has never, ever let me down.

What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I’ve learned so much about the value of family and loyalty towards my loved ones, the strength of culture as it impacts my daily life and how I view the world, and that Taiwanese people have the best food in the world!

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

When I was very young, my mom had to work overnight at her company to make ends meet. She would pick my brother and me up on Friday afternoon and spend a couple hours with us running errands. When it got close to the time she would have to leave to work, I’d get on the floor and pull her down by her legs to try to keep her at home. I never wanted her to leave and sometimes would resent her for leaving us on Friday nights. But looking back as an adult, she did everything she could to pay the bills and give my brother and me everything we needed and wanted.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

My mom has spent a huge chunk of her adult life taking care of her widowed mom (my grandma) and I see so much dedication, love, and generosity by my mom to my grandma. I see my mom as not only the best mom a girl could have, but the best daughter a mother could have. She exemplifies everything about family, hard work, and love that I want to exemplify.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mom is not only a Taiwanese immigrant to America, but she is also a deaf woman. She’s had to endure so many obstacles to get to where she is today. She has had to prove to people that she was smart, capable, and a great leader, despite being a woman, an immigrant, and English being her THIRD language! I admire how hard of a worker she is, how persevering she is, and her leadership qualities. I don’t know anybody who puts so much passion and hard work into their job and puts in the equal amount of time in taking care of their family. I am so proud to call her my mom and I am so proud of her for living the American dream and conquering all her hardships.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mom inspires me to be a loyal, compassionate, hard working person. She has so much flair, and is so radiant, despite everything she has gone through in life. She has always told me to not let the little things get to me, and to keep my eyes on my dreams and do the best for myself. She inspires me to succeed in life and to always seek happiness. She has made it very clear that all she wants for my brother and me is to be happy in our lives. It means a lot to be supported by a woman who just wants what is best for us, despite the fact that we may not become rich lawyers or be able to buy her a mansion.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My mom and I were really close when I was a kid, and we went through a tumultuous relationship when I was a teenager. When I moved to college, I realized she was my best friend. Since then, I haven’t been able to go a single day without talking to her, laughing with her, and thinking about her. I moved to NYC for one year after I got my B.A. and it was so hard to be away from her. I realized just how important she is to me and how I could never be too far from my mom!

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want my mom to know that she is my hero and she has never, ever let me down. She works so hard for my brother and me and she constantly doubts that she isn’t doing enough for us; she’s a perfectionist. But she needs to know that there has never been a day where I am not immensely proud of how much she’s achieved in life and so thankful for all that she has sacrificed to put my brother and me first in her life.


Jean and Amanda

I never realized that I was raising one of my best and closest friends…and now I learn from her.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

From my daughter’s viewpoint…that we highly stress we are Taiwanese-American and we have white rice quite often…lol

What is the most important thing you have learned from your daughter? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

That once the foundation is laid…you let them go..

Tell us about the ways that your daughter makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She’s a go-getter even though she’s fundamentally a shy person. I think that’s a predominant Taiwanese trait…

She worked almost full time going within 2 years from Hostess at Duke’s on Waikiki…to cocktail waitress and marketing assistant while carrying a full load at the Univ. of Hawaii and still managing to volunteer one day a week at Ronald McDonald House… and she held the position of president of Golf Resort marketing Assc. in her senior year. All that paid off with an offer from Four Season’s Hotel & Resort to be in their management training program…and now she’s one of the youngest managers (at age 23)at Four Seasons – Kona ( one of the chain’s busiest resorts).

Tell us about how your daughter inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

That she actually took my advice… I read an article on Four Seasons Maui on the airplane (I’m a Continental flight attendant/née United) about how it is such a wonderful place to work and had the lowest turnover in the industry…and gave her the article. Eureka…it was meant to be!!

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your daughter changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I am slowly experiencing a mild role-reversal..I think that’s inevitable in all cases… But hopefully with the Asian background ( 1/2 in her case ) the reverence to the seniors will remain….

What is one thing that you would like your daughter to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

That I never realized that I was raising one of my best and closest friends…and now I learn from her <3


Vivian and Marilyn

I love her for who she is. And wherever I am it is home for her.


What is the most important thing you have learned from your daughter? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Persistence and to hold on to your dreams.

Tell us about the ways that your daughter makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She believes in herself and holds to her unique Taiwanese value.

Tell us about how your daughter inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

She inspires me that friendship and sisterhood are more important than instant gratitude. Looking ahead and holding to your own integrity is more important in life than anything else.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your daughter changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

In her teens: worst enemies. In her young adulthood: mutual respect but we kept our distance. Around 25 is when our relationship started blossoming from friends to comrade in life. She is now 34.

What is one thing that you would like your daughter to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I love her for who she is. And wherever I am it is home for her.

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

Marilyn is a talented writer and showed it even back to her Elementary days. She could be a lawyer or in the Advertising field where life would be easier and still could use her writing skills. But she chose movies because she believes a movie is a way of converting a message. Through telling a story, she can get what she believes in through the big screen and pass on to a vast audience.

She loves movies and is not surprising that she would decide to go to a film school right after college. I asked her why within all the discipline in the Film industry she picked “screen writer” which is one role that is least recognized. Her answer was: “That is where all the good movies start…. a good story teller which is the screenwriter.”


Carol and Kelly

But now even though I’m still a teenager, she talks to me about everything sometimes, even about my own younger siblings! We definitely both trust each other.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

From my mom, I learned a lot about having pride in being Taiwanese. She taught me about self-identity.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I remember when I used to live in Taiwan, there was a Christmas party at my preschool where we had to wear a Christmas related costume. My mom thought it would be cute for me to dress up as a “Candy Fairy”. I remember that she bought a gorgeous white dress that was like a flower girl dress. She made mini candies by using colorful candy wrapping that surrounded cotton balls. Then she sewed them onto my dress and stockings. She also did my hair and put candy canes in my hair. I still remember that day and how so many people complimented my dress which, as I proudly told them, my mom had made.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

Our relationship has definitely improved as time has gone by. I used to be the “rebellious and annoying” teenager. But now even though I’m still a teenager, she talks to me about everything sometimes, even about my own younger siblings! We definitely both trust each other.


Justine and Lynn

Because we are equals, she can sometimes be harsh and give me very direct advice that I don’t always want to hear… It can be tough but I’ve come to realize no one else will ever be that honest (and perhaps in turn, as helpful) as she is to me.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned that it means different things to different people.

It means family and food and many traditions surrounding the lunar calendar.

Being Taiwanese is hard to explain. The experience is influenced by China as much as it is influenced by Japan, particularly for my maternal grandparents’ generation who grew up under the Japanese colonial rule and still feel a certain amount of admiration and connection to the Japanese and their culture.

Being Taiwanese means showing respect to your elders. It means praying for your ancestors. It means being humble, hospitable and appreciative, rarely wasteful, always prepared.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

I have learned how to live and think as an independent woman. My mother went through a rough time getting to a good place with my father’s parents. It took them a while to think she was even worth their and my father’s time. From this experience, she vowed never to be in a position where she could not support herself financially. She gave up teaching to get a degree in business and launch her career in finance and later supply chain management, where she leveraged her Chinese and Taiwanese speaking skills to negotiate big deals with Asian vendors in the tech industry.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She had a successful career in the high-tech industry, without sacrificing her relationships with me and my brother. She always made time for our school meetings, helped us with our art and science projects, and made sure we had regular story times, sitting around the living room, going around telling stories that we made up along the way. It makes me proud to know how hard it must have been but that she did it with positivity, always.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

Now that I’m in my mid-20s and she in her mid-50s, we see each other as more equals and can talk about things like dealing with death, family dynamics and how to keep good friends and determine solid partners — romantic and business. Because we are equals, she can sometimes be harsh and give me very direct advice that I don’t always want to hear. She is not afraid to tell me when she thinks I’m being lazy, or irresponsible, or just wrong. It can be tough but I’ve come to realize no one else will ever be that honest (and perhaps in turn, as helpful) as she is to me. Likewise I am also able to give her very candid advice about her career, relationships and lifestyle. We have become better friends with time, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we always get along.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I’d like her to know that I hope I can be as well-rounded, fun and generally excellent a mother as she.


Nikki, Mindi, and Sue-Yi

My mother is always thinking of other people. I think helping others is something that comes second nature to her.


Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I remember when my mom would have mahjong nights/afternoons and I would fall asleep with my head by her head, listening to the vibrations her vocal chords made when speaking Taiwanese with her girlfriends. -Mindi

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother is always thinking of other people. I think helping others is something that comes second nature to her. Whenever she’s not taking care of me or my sister, she’s cooking meals for someone who’s sick, or translating for someone who doesn’t speak English as well, or taking working parent’s kids to the library. No one ever asks her to do these things; she always willingly volunteers. Her selfless actions motivate me daily, from small things to larger projects. If my mother, who has a full-time job and raised two children, can find the time and energy to dedicate to helping others, why can’t I? –Nikki


Sophia and Karen

We learn to accept each other and not to criticize the things that we don’t like.

What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

She respects the spirits of the earth and spirits of the dead and the ancestors.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

She loves singing Japanese songs.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Sacrifice.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

They care and love others and respect the environment.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

They don’t really encourage, but they let you do whatever you want to do.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

We learn to accept each other and not to criticize the things that we don’t like.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I am fighting to promote Taiwan and let people of Taiwan proud.

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

It is ok to be different and not following the wisdom of Chinese teaching.


Stephanie and Li-Ching

She is the coolest mom ever. She is close with all my friends and all my friends love her.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

Everything. From eating Taiwanese food to speaking Taiwanese. I am proud to be Taiwanese American because of how she raised me.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

When I was still young, during Christmas season, my mom would always buy tons of gingerbread and different types of frostings and toppings for me to build a gingerbread house. She would patiently watch me as I enjoyed myself in the process. Even till today, it is still one of my fondest memories of my mom.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

What comes around goes around.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She is the coolest mom ever. She is close with all my friends and all my friends love her.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

Her passion for all sorts of things gave me motivation to pursue what I love.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

Even after attending college, I am still very close with my mom. I call her at least twice a day.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

That I love her very very very much and I am thankful for all she’s done for me.


Cindy and Ann

My mom is very devoted to her family. Although she doesn’t show it in traditional ways, she is willing to give and sacrifice her needs for her children.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

My mom is very devoted to her family. Although she doesn’t show it in traditional ways, she is willing to give and sacrifice her needs for her children. Because family and respect for elders is an important role in Taiwanese culture, she demonstrated that since we were young by taking us to visit our grandparents every weekend (with the weekly McDonald’s treat), making sure we acknowledged our elders at family functions, and quietly scolding her children if we got into an argument with our elders.

Also, being one of the oldest siblings, she also made sure that we knew we had to provide for our younger siblings such as letting them have the first pick or making sure we shared our goodies with them.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

When I was in school, my mom used to make marshmallow creme puffs for breakfast on the weekends. It was so nice to have that treat and because there are 4 children and 2 of them are boys, it was also a good way to get us up early because we knew the early bird gets the worm.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Sacrifice. During the recent years, as her parents got older, my mom would increase her visits to ensure her parents had everything they needed and would buy groceries for them. When her mother passed away, she took on the responsibility of taking care of her father and retired from her job to care for him full time.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She is welcomed and loved by so many people despite working a minimum wage salary. My mom worked as a cashier lady at the cafeteria at NIH and was so popular with NIH employees and her co-workers. As a child, it was so nice to see how much people enjoyed working with her. Also, Taiwan Night used to be held in NIH’s auditorium so she would always take us to see her work and some of the late night staff since she knew the way around.

When NIH built a new building on the campus, she was selected to work at the cybercafe. She was so proud to be working at this new location. As I visited from college, I knew I already had to dedicate one day to visit my mom at work so she could show me off to her colleagues. Seeing her so happy and interacting with her colleagues makes me proud because she’s introverted and doesn’t usually interact in social events.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

I want to emulate her devotion to family and kindness to strangers.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I’m able to understand her better and where she comes from. We’re able to talk about deeper issues as adults talking to adults.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I hope she knows that she’s respected and loved by her children so much.


Joann and Jenny

I want my mom to know that she raised a strong, smart woman who is very grateful for all that she did for me and my siblings, so that we could choose our own independent paths.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned to be polite and to respect my elders. I learned that eating food together is an important part of being Taiwanese. I learned to be proud of being Taiwanese.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I have this memory of us living in an apartment and someone knocking on the door. We didn’t know who it was so we were afraid, but my mom was there to comfort me and my older sister.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

I have learned that I should do whatever the people I love need. My mom takes care of my kids two days per week, helped us buy our house, cooks for us, folds laundry…

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mom is very friendly and welcoming, so much more so than I or my siblings are. She gives so much of her time to volunteer with Tzu Chi. In 2004, my husband and I went to Taiwan with my mom, and the night we arrived, she took us to a rally for Chen Shui-Bian. That was the first time that I’d seen the activist side of my mom, and I felt really proud.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My father died when I was 14. My sister was 16, and my brother was 12 at that time. She took care of us and made us feel safe, and while she mourned our dad, she continued on with her life. She had stopped working for many years to take care of us kids, but after my dad died, she got her realtor’s license and then she co-started a bakery in Columbus, Ohio. She didn’t need to work after she married my stepdad, but she did it and the bakery, Golden Delight, now has two locations in the Columbus area and is really successful.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I definitely had a rebellious period as a teenager in high school and in college, and while I know she wasn’t happy with some of what I did, she never took it so far to threaten to disown me and she took what I did in stride, even as I got one tattoo and then another, and then I became a union and a community organizer and she learned to be proud of that. I definitely depend on my mom a lot, maybe even more so now than when I was in college.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want my mom to know that she raised a strong, smart woman who is very grateful for all that she did for me and my siblings, so that we could choose our own independent paths. 


Stephanie and Hweilin

I think of her several times a day…what she would do if she were in my situation.

What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

Don’t waste, respect and learn from your elders, don’t be lazy or rely on others when you get do things yourself, love yourself.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I went with my mom to an aerobics class — I think I may have asked to go, but shortly after it began, I became restless and started pouting and misbehaving. My mom stopped what she was doing and started walking over. For a moment I thought she might be coming to give me a hug but instead she took my head in real close and said something like “knock that off” in a low voice. She never had to threaten punishment or really raise her voice — one icy look was usually enough!

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Always take care of yourself first. Be the best you can be.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

Too many to list here! She balances career and home (and my dad traveled a lot), leads by example, tireless work-ethic, always put-together (no going out in sweats!), and is always willing to try new things.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I have always respected and admired my mother, but now that I have children of my own, that respect and admiration grown exponentially. I think of her multiple times a day — every time I interact with my children, I picture her with my brother and me when we were little, what she would do if she were in my situation, what she would think of my actions.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

How much I love and respect her, that I credit who I am to her (hopefully she is proud of that!)


Angela and Chumei

One thing I am proud of right now is that she takes care of her parents… It is a tradition I want to carry on in my own life, and teach to my children someday.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned about how important it is to identify myself as Taiwanese, and not as Chinese. I remember as a little kid having to correct my friends when they mistakenly thought Taiwanese meant my family came from Thailand. (Similar in sound, but quite different!) I think this experience impressed upon me at an early age that being Taiwanese was rare, and so it made me special too.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

My earliest memory of my mother is when I was about 4 years old. I remember that I would try to get out of going to bed, and my younger brother and I would pull the old trick of saying we were hungry. My mom would give in every now and then, and allow my brother and me to prolong going to sleep. She would give us each a slice of bread, which we had fun smashing into little balls before eating it. I remember having a fun time hanging out late at night with my mom, just laughing and smashing bread.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mother works hard — really hard. One thing I am proud of right now is that she takes care of her parents. I attribute this family responsibility and respect for our elders as our Asian heritage. It is a tradition I want to carry on in my own life, and teach to my children someday.


Gloria, Sonia, and May-Sing

You always put others before yourself. Thank you! love you! love you! loooove you!



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

One of the most important things we’ve learned from our mom is to be compassionate, generous, and hospitable to everyone you meet. I often here my mom say, “Be my guest. Be my guest!” Whether it’s a new or old friend that steps into our house or the Taiwanese American Center of Northern California, she showers them with her attention, love, and of course, lots of food!

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

Like Bill Gates, our mom had a vision that started in our garage (well…home, but close enough!) Her dream was to start a Taiwanese American Center (TAC) in Northern California so the Taiwanese community of the Bay Area can have a centralized place they can gather and call “home.” In April 2003, TAC was established and her dream came true. When our mom has a vision, she puts all her mind, heart, and soul to reach it. Daily, she inspires us to faithfully work hard in good spirit.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

Mommy, you are our best friend and mentor. We love you so so SO much. We appreciate you for supporting us and being the rock of our family. You always put others before yourself. Thank you! love you! love you! loooove you!


Kathy and Her Mother

No matter what are differences are and difficulties we have had through the years, I still love her and wish her the best that life has to offer.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

How to be supportive of the family (help with chores, listen respectfully).

Food — we were living in a rural area with no restaurants, so had to make everything from scratch. BahTsang, hotpot, soymilk/yutiao, onion cakes, dumplings etc.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Making man-to on the kitchen counter. She let me make whatever shapes I wanted, like play-doh.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

No matter how hard things get, don’t give up.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

Being different is ok; encouraged me to be who I am.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

Even though she never made it to high school in Taiwan, she successfully got her GED in the US and then a college degree.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My relationship with my mom was never the same after she found out I started having boyfriends in college, as if I took the family honor away (how anachronistic!) I was incessantly called every rude name you can imagine, while trying to get through my really tough engineering classes. In trying to understand her point of view, I realize there were consequences to premarital sex at her generation because of pregnancy, so “purity” is important. I just couldn’t understand how any parent can be so oppressive and say such vile things their own child. It took years to regain a civil relationship with her and my dad again, but I don’t think the undercurrent of disgust ever went away, as the years went by with my dating life through my 20’s and 30’s. In my humble opinion, how can we know what kind of person should be our life partner without trying different personalities? It’s like buying the first house that you see.

When I became a mom, there was another strange rough patch, as if she assumed her maternal grandma role where HER grandma (my great grandma). She must have been a tyrant towards my maternal grandma (my mom’s mom), who never was allowed to go to school — like Joy Luck Club, she had been given away as a baby and an indentured servant to that household where she eventually married the son of the house (Ew, gross! Can you imagine marrying your equivalent brother??) Not surprising that my maternal grandpa left his wife when my mom was only 5. My grandma was expected to do the cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. When she turned 16, she was asked if she wanted to stay with the family and was too afraid to say no.

When my first baby was born, my mom seemed happy for me at first, but as the weeks rolled by, she became conspicuously absent by going to her room like a phantom when I went to visit, leaving only my Dad to interact with us. She would do subversive things like turn up the TV to make sure it wakes me and the baby up when she knows we’re asleep, as if she’s getting back at us for something she keeps to herself and doesn’t articulate to me the things that I could’ve either changed or apologized for. Now with my 2nd daughter, I’m glad her passive aggressive tendencies have diminished, as I’ve learned better ways to react and manage communication through counseling.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

No matter what are differences are and difficulties we have had through the years, I still love her and wish her the best that life has to offer.


Michi and Diana

I respect her even though we have different ways of thinking and behaving.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

Being Taiwanese is about being respectful of elders, thinking of others before oneself, and being conservative as a woman.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Going out to family dinners or hosting dinner parties at home.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Modesty means keeping one’s talents hidden — letting our talents speak for themselves.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She is hard working and a community organizer.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

She is an avid volunteer for her temple, very well respected by her community.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

We used to argue a lot. Now we spend time listening to one another more.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

That I respect her even though we have different ways of thinking and behaving.


Karel and Her Mother

More than anything, I want my mother to know just how much I think about her, how much I wonder what her emotional experience of her thirty-four years in the US has been like, and how much I ache when I think of how much she’s sacrificed for me.



Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

My mother had a song for all of our morning and evening routines. When getting us out of bed, she would sweep into the room, yank open the blinds, and sing “起床了,起床了!” — or she would blast Chinese easy listening on the stereo so that it was impossible to stay asleep. My favorite song, though, was at night while she washed our faces with little terry washcloths:

洗洗臉
洗洗臉
天天洗洗臉!
乖乖的詹雅婷 (or my brothers’ names)
天天洗洗臉!

It was such a joyous song that I almost didn’t mind that she scrubbed my face so hard it probably removed the top layer of skin. Oh, Mom.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

When I was twenty-five, I moved from the east coast, which had always been my home base, to Portland, Oregon with my boyfriend at the time. It was difficult to find roots in a new city, a new state, a new coast, to say the least, and I encountered many curve balls that made me wish I could retreat back to the comforts of New York and New Jersey.

When I think about my mother, newly engaged to my father and moving to the US at age twenty-three, my mind is blown at how brave she must have been to take that leap, and then how steadfast to weather the newness of the country, of Western culture, and of starting a family countless miles away from the only other family she’d known. At least in my twenty-something naivete I was surrounded by a larger culture that I was comfortable navigating. I’m incredibly proud of my mother for choosing a bicultural adulthood and intently raising children who were not completely swept away by Western culture. In that sense, she gifted us with our own biculturalism, which we carry indelibly through our own adulthood.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My mother and I used to fight like crazy, probably from the time I was about five until twenty-five. I’m twenty-nine now and I would say that in the past six or seven years, my focus has gradually shifted from trying to get her to understand me, to trying to better understand her. I’ve consciously been trying to find more empathy for her experience as a Taiwanese mother raising three American children.

My brothers and I have tested her strength and limits countless times, especially as we’ve become adults and made increasingly independent decisions that don’t seem to fit within her cultural worldview of what Taiwanese children do. And yet, through her disappointments and her struggle to understand what drives us, she loves us with a fierceness that is unchanging. I used to doubt her love for me, especially when I was a young child, because she didn’t say “I love you” and she didn’t cuddle me the way my White American friends’ moms did. Now I recognize that she loves in the way she knows — and what’s changed is how I perceive and receive it.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

More than anything, I want my mother to know just how much I think about her, how much I wonder what her emotional experience of her thirty-four years in the US has been like, and how much I ache when I think of how much she’s sacrificed for me.


Chen-Chen and Pi-Chu

I am even more inspired by my mom’s dedication and passion for anything she commits to.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I did not have easiest time in school as a child. Being one of a very few minorities in my school, I was always aware of how different I was. In fact, my high school had only 0.4% of us that fell under the Not Caucasian category. I often wanted to blend in, to try to be like everyone else as much as possible. My mom wouldn’t have any of that, she continued to push me to be proud of my identity, my uniqueness, and my heritage. She taught us how humble, steadfast, and resilient the Taiwanese people have always been, that even with its history of foreigners occupying their country, they maintain their cultural identity and pride. She was not about to let their move to the U.S. squash this sense of self. A crucial part of teaching us how to embrace our heritage was by teaching us to speak Taiwanese. It’s hard enough for any second generation to learn their parent’s original language; imagine how difficult it must have been for my mother to teach us to speak Taiwanese fluently in a town with so few minorities, let alone Taiwanese people. Most of her friends chose to speak English to their children, thinking it would help them better assimilate. Now that I am an adult, I am so thankful that she taught us this beautiful language. There are so many cultural nuances that can only be fully embraced through the language. It has allowed me to better understand and communicate with my parents and to connect with my heritage. By the time I finished high school, I was secure in my identity and no longer wanted to be like everyone else and sink into the background. I was eager to explore my roots and share the love for the language that at Cal, I helped co-found and teach the Taiwanese Language class. I am proud of my heritage and owe it all to my mom’s perseverance and strength.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

The most important thing I have learned from my mother is resilience and tenacity. Coming to the US as a new mom and not knowing a soul other than my dad, she was so isolated that I can only imagine how overbearing the loneliness must have been. She did not speak the language or understand the culture, and had to immediately learn how to drive and become independent so that care for us. Her new life was such the dichotomous opposite to the life she had in Taiwan, where she had family and friends surrounding her and helping her. My mother does not relish change, she craves stability and organization, so this life upheaval must have been especially difficult for her. Yet she was determined to make it work and ended up thriving in her new home. She and my father successfully grew their own business and somehow she was still able to be there and support me in all of our extracurricular activities. She was not only an active member in the Taiwanese community, but also in our neighborhood where we were one of only two homes with minority residents. She served on our neighborhood association board and was a pioneer and advocate for our neighborhood in often heated community issues such as beautification projects, neighborhood expansion, and greenbelt access. Sometimes when I think about the challenges of juggling two toddlers and two parents working, I think about what my mother went through and know my own challenges pale in comparison. When I am feeling weak, I will talk to my mom and she will always give me a straight-forward reality-check, some good practical advice, and then I know that everything will be okay.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother tells me that when she was in high school and college, she used to be shy and more withdrawn. I can even remember as a young child that she seemed more comfortable as part of the crowd, having never expressed her inner voice until then. I am so proud and inspired by her self-transformation into the strong woman that she is today.

Today my mother is an active and respected leader in the Taiwanese community. She is currently a board member of the South Region of NATWA (North American Taiwanese Women’s Association), and has served a variety of officer roles in the Austin Taiwanese Association such as President, Vice President, and Director. My mother’s leadership has also led her to be a pioneer in the Taiwanese community. She founded the Austin Taiwanese Women’s Association and organized TEAM TAIWAN to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to help promote Taiwan. She also established a Taiwanese Language School that ran for several years, she was not put off by the fact that at the time, there were so few Taiwanese people in Austin and even fewer second generation who spoke the language.

I am even more inspired by my mom’s dedication and passion for anything she commits to. At the recent National NATWA conference, she was asked to host and narrate a talk to be given by Mrs. Tian, an actress of the documentary Hand in Hand. Rather than reading off a script with a sparse bio, my mom took it upon herself to do her own research and find out as much as she could about Mrs. Tian. She then decided to conduct the talk in an interview format and had the audience captivated and engaged. She received high praise and some even thought my mom was a hired professional host or that she knew Mrs. Tian well.


Annie and Debbie

Growing up, I took her a bit for granted. Now that I live away from home, I realized how much I miss her everyday presence.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

My mother taught me to be proud of my Taiwanese heritage. Growing in the American “self-absorption culture,” I was never made aware of my Asian descent until my mother subtly showed me through her home cooking, mannerisms, and bed time stories. When I was little, I once told her I was Chinese because my first grade teacher created this identity for me. My mom sat me down and told me all about Taiwan-from geography to food to politics to people — I learned so much in that short span of time. Ever since then, I have created my own proud identity in which I show to the world.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

One of my earliest memories of my mother was the first time she took me to Taiwan. It was the first time I experienced the food, beauty, and culture of Taiwan firsthand. I remember going to night markets with my mom, clutching onto her arm in an attempt to stay afloat in the tidal waves of people. We walked slowly down the street as the smells of all different types of street food, some familiar, some exotic, filled up my nose as my mom urged me to try everything. From then on, whenever I eat Taiwanese food a wave of nostalgia washes over me as I am brought back to that moment.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

I learned that your family is the most important thing in your life. They will always be there to support you and lend a hand. They will always love you no matter what.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mom immigrated to the United States with nothing but some suitcases and a couple of dollars in her pocket. Today she owns a very successful small business with my dad in Flushing, New York called GS Office Supply and Printing. She has built a great reputation for herself and my family. She works so hard every day just so she can spoil my sister and me, let us follow our dreams, and provide us with a college education.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me to do my best in everything I do. She makes me try my hardest and gives me that extra encouraging push whenever I start doubting myself.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My mother and I have always been close, like best friends. Growing up, I took her a bit for granted. Now that I live away from home, I realized how much I miss her everyday presence.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want my mother to know how much I love her and how thankful I am to be her daughter.


Danielle and Gabriella

She has taught me how to live in the moment. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, so live and love RIGHT NOW.


What is the most important thing you have learned from your daughter? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

She grew in my heart. She has taught me how to love in a whole different way. She is a true gift from God. She has taught me how to live in the moment. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, so live and love RIGHT NOW.

Tell us about the ways that your daughter makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She is only 4, but she makes me proud every day. People notice the two of us together and she doesn’t notice the differences, only the similarities. She LOVES to learn and wants to make us proud. She plays like she’s being paid to do so. She sings her heart out and thanks God for all she’s been given. I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter!

Tell us about how your daughter inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My daughter makes me want to be a better person. She is pure. She notices things that I don’t. She points out things that I would have otherwise not seen. She inspires me to look for the beauty in the world and to wave at perfect strangers. To smile at them and it forces them to smile back. Wouldn’t the world be a much nicer place if we all learned to be a little more childlike?!

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your daughter changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

We were put together. God found us each other. As she grows older, she is growing less dependent on me, but learning to walk in her own shoes. She still runs to me when her feelings get hurt or when she skins her knees, but she is learning to be a responsible individual. It will continue to change, I know. But I hope the things that still remain, will continue as she gets older.

What is one thing that you would like your daughter to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I hope she already knows that I will LOVE her for forever. Though she did not grow in my body, she grew in my heart and NOTHING can ever take that love away.


Christy and Her Mother

I’m so grateful that God had chosen her to be my mother in this lifetime, and I’m really grateful for all the big choices that she has made that have changed our lives…



Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

One of the earliest memories of my mother is when she took me on a series camping trips with the local community college when I was in early elementary school. She was a single mom, but that didn’t hold her back. She bought us a tent, sleeping bags, a propane stove, and a camping lantern. We would load up our little car and join with groups of nature-loving people out into the desert to go hiking, look for geodes, learn about desert plants and animals, and just enjoy the great outdoors. Those were really fun times!

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother is a high energy and very active woman. From the moment she awakes to the moment she sleeps – so long as she is not at work – she is cleaning, cooking, or planning fun activities for us to do. She does not suffer from any lack of initiative, and most of the time, it does not even occur to her to be afraid. She is really a very positive person.

My mother is the eldest of five siblings from a small city in Southern Taiwan called “Ping-Tung” (屏東市). Her dad was a civil engineer that worked for the Taiwan Sugar Corporation (台糖) and her mom was a talented and beautiful stay-at-home mom. My mother was blessed with some amazing test-taking abilities, so she was able to attend the highest ranked high school and college in Taiwan. From what I hear, she was as energetic back then as she is now – buying a car and taking her classmates on hikes.

It was on one of these hikes during college that she happened to meet and fall in love with my dad. Though their marriage didn’t last very long, many great things eventually came from it. For one, being newly single, my mother was able to pursue her dream of moving to the United States. For another, she found herself in a position where she was searching for answers, and chose to commit herself to God through the Christian faith. And lastly, she had me as her daughter, whom she continued to raise as a single mom in a new country with our new faith.

I admire my mother for starting a new life for us here in the United States and giving us a life full of variety and adventure. She has since become re-married to a really wonderful man, and now works as an investigator with the U.S. Department of Labor in the Ft. Lauderdale area. Nothing holds her back! Her faith and positive spirit has carried us through till today.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My relationship with my mother was definitely rocky in the past, so I totally understand it when people tell me they have difficulties relating with their moms. We often fought about really random things, and I didn’t really understand her very well back then.

Nonetheless, as I have grown older, I noticed how we both were able to work on our communication skills and understand each other better. I know now that my mother has my best in intentions in mind.

I notice how my mom has changed some of her habits too – the ones that used to make me nuts. I’ve also noticed how I started choosing not to react with annoyance or unmerited frustration to really little things that make no difference. So, we have a really great relationship now! And when I have any sort of trouble I can always count her to give me good, positive advice. I only wish that our relationship could have always been as good as it is now. Yet, nonetheless, I am grateful for how things have changed as I grew older.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want my mother to know that she is a really amazing and very special person. I’m so grateful that God had chosen her to be my mother in this lifetime, and I’m really grateful for all the big choices that she has made that have changed our lives, including the choice to come to the United States and to become a Christian. I thank her for continuing to show me great friendship, and I love how she daily gives herself to me and others around her.


Jeanny and Lirong

I learned short commands in Taiwanese as a child: Ze a ho, my kikung, cui huphup…


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

That we are not Chinese
That Taiwan was never part of China
Made in Taiwan is better than made in China
I learned short commands in Taiwanese as a child: ze a ho, my kikung, cui huphup, ki se tsui, ki kun
And foods/fruits: tsetkiah, jinglebells, bala, gamjia
Then I forgot my Taiwanese until after college when I learned Mandarin and went to live in Taipei for a year.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Hollowing out eggs to paint on, or tomatillos to make whistles
Cooking (I still love bihun, bigo, and pigs feet)

She told me not to move when a bee came around, and it wouldn’t sting me. So when I was 5 and learning to ride a bike, I stayed still and watched a bee sting me on my finger. I went crying home and she put baking soda on my finger to feel better.

When I was 7 we went to Taiwan for the first time, and met my grandmother only once. She was nice. We spoke no Taiwanese or Chinese. This was the first time the family had returned home after emigrating I think 11 years prior. Shortly after we returned home I remember her getting a telegram that Ama had passed (very young, only in her 50s). Mom was crying and I tried to comfort her, standing close and touching her hand. I felt like I should cry but I did not feel anything, since I did not really know my Ama.


Kimberley and Shey-Ling

I never knew how hard it was to be a mom until I became one.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

Our history and sacrifices. To be proud of who you are. Stand up for what you believe in. Who cares about what others say about you. To speak Taiwanese.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Making breakfast in bed for her for mother’s day.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mom has always been one to speak her mind. I definitely learned that trait from her. Gets me into trouble sometimes but it’s very freeing.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I’d say it’s gotten better — especially now that I’m a mom. I’d like to think that she’s proud of who I’ve become and how I’m raising my own daughter. I did after all learn almost everything from her!

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

That I love her and that now that I’m a mother, I truly appreciate everything she and my father have done for us. I never knew how hard it was to be a mom until I became one.


Christine, Rebekah, and Lillian

I want my mother to know how much I appreciate her and how much I will forever be in her debt.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

When I was growing up, my mother raised me to be proud of who I was and be proud of my heritage. She was very supportive and understanding whenever I had questions about my background and was always eager to share recipes, stories, music, etc. from her life in Taiwan. She was very proud of the unique aspects of Taiwanese culture and wanted me to appreciate it as well. She also stressed the importance of staying connected with the Taiwanese & Taiwanese American community. We often attended or hosted potluck dinners with other local Taiwanese American families and I was sent to various Taiwanese American camps and social gatherings. I think she did this so that I would meet others who shared my background and learn about how important being part of COMMUNITY is.

I hope to do the same for my daughter. I want her to be proud of who she is and what her background is. I want her to learn about and appreciate Taiwanese history and culture. I also want her to understand the value of being a part of a community and plan to connect her with other Taiwanese Americans so that she can meet others who share her heritage.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

I am proud of my mother because of her strength and because of her generosity. My mother has had to face some difficult times during her lifetime, and despite various obstacles, she has always managed to overcome whatever was in her path. She has a strong will, is disciplined, determined, and very resourceful. I wish I had her physical/emotional/mental strength!

My mother is also a very caring person, and can be very giving. She loves helping others and is always willing to assist those who are less fortunate. Her generosity goes beyond financial assistance, she is also very generous with her time, energy, and wisdom.

Tell us about how your daughter inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My daughter is only two years old, but she inspires/motivates me every day. Since finding out I was pregnant almost 3 years ago, I became increasingly motivated to become a better person. I wanted to be a better mom, but in order to do so, needed to be a better person as a whole. I want to set an example for her, which is what drives me to live the best life I can.

My daughter also inspires/motivates me to want to make the world a better place for her. Knowing that her generation will inherit the world that my generation leaves behind, I have been more driven to work towards improving the environment, improving the community, and improving the world as a whole. I want my daughter to grow up in an ethical, safe, and healthy world, which means that I need to advocate for those issues whenever possible.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My relationship with my mother has changed a great deal since I became a mother as well. As the years have passed, and especially since my daughter was born, my respect and admiration for my mother has grown. Being a mom isn’t easy, and I now have a better understand of what my mother went through and why my mother made the choices that she did.

What is one thing that you would like your mother or daughter to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want my mother to know how much I appreciate her and how much I will forever be in her debt. I want her to know how much I love her, respect her, and hope that I have made her proud. I want her to know that there is much that I admire in her and that I wish I was more like her.

I want my daughter to know how much I love her and how thankful I am that she has entered my life. I want her to know that I may not be the perfect mom, but that I am trying my very best. I want her to know that even though she is only 2, she has taught me SO MUCH more than I have taught her!


Joanna and Gloria

We have a wonderful relationship and can talk about anything. I love my mom!


Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

One of my earliest memories of my mom was when I was about five years old. My mom never had the opportunity to have music or dance lessons while growing up. So she enrolled me in a ballet class the year I turned five. I remember a dance studio full of little girls. The teacher was asking all of us to stand at the bar. I cried and refused to go up there unless my mom went with me. She did. Then we left and she got me an ice cream cone. We never went back to class again!

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

When I was a kid, my mom knew everything. She was my source of wisdom and knowledge. As I reached my teens, I felt that my mom didn’t actually know as much as I did. I grew up in the US and had lots of interaction with American society. I thought she was too closed-minded. As soon as I went to college, I realized how wrong I was about my mom. Now that I am a mom myself, my mom is once again my source of wisdom and knowledge. We have a wonderful relationship and can talk about anything. I love my mom!


Connie and Joyce

Words can’t even begin to express how proud I am of my Momma.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

Taiwanese food! Taiwanese heritage! Taiwanese norms and customs! I learned that being a Taiwanese Mom, is all about dishing out some of the best Taiwanese dishes there are!

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Some of my earliest and fondest memories of my mom go waaay back — when I was a wee little girl. I remember watching my mom design on a drafting table at my Dad’s printing office. I also remember going with my mom to local Taiwanese/Chinese community events where my mom would have a booth setup and she would demonstrate her kirigami and origami skills & try to sell her craft books :O) I would demonstrate and help her get kids come to our booths!

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Learning that everyone loves (both gives and receives it) differently has been the best lesson my Mom has taught me, indirectly. It’s through the way my Mom has been there for my family, that I’ve learned that people, will receive and give love differently, but all individualistically unique. To be accepting and understanding of how others choose to give and receive love. I know, cliche, but it’s true!

I have also learned through my Mom that family is everything…

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

Words can’t even begin to express how proud I am of my Momma. She’s so strong in her own ways! She makes time after an incredibly busy day of work to put yummy food on the table. She encourages me to live and pursue a “happy” life, and reminds me constantly, that Family support is always there, through the worst and best times. For this, I am forever grateful and proud of.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

I would like to believe it’s my Mom’s constant and consistent support and love that inspires me to be the best I can be. My mom is also a graphic designer, so she has a good understanding for what I do and what I want to achieve. I am extra lucky that both my Mom and Dad have given me the freedom to pursue what I love and want to do. Knowing that they have struggled and sacrificed so much to provide a good life for US, keeps me secretly inspired to be successful, regardless of my field of work (no, I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or accountant).

When I was in high school, my parents made a decision to close their business, sell our home in Rowland Heights and move to Orange, to support a possible shot at training for the Olympics for badminton. My mom took up a job at LAX during those years, and I watched her work late hours and drive long distances, just to keep our family financially stable. When I look back, knowing this keeps me motivated and inspired to work harder, because I’d like to give back to my parents one day… They’ve sacrificed so much for me, the only thing I can do is give back.

Also, knowing my Mom’s history of family struggles in Taiwan reminds me to be grounded and grateful for what I have while inspiring me to work harder for the goals I have set in place for myself.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I used to bicker and disagree with mom… a lot! I still bicker and disagree with my mom! hahaha! We still have trouble understanding each other because of tradition and generation differences, but I find that we’ve grown to have more patience with those differences. I’ve learned that I have become more accepting of my Mom’s (or “Parent’s”) ways, and to simply, let them be. But I feel, that with time and maturity, our relationship has grown to be a bond of better friendship (I admit, it wasn’t always smooth sailing in my younger days when I was a rebellious, hot tempered teen!).

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

If there was one thing that I would like my Mom to know, it would be that I love her. She already knows that, but, if needed, I’d like her to be reminded of that every day… despite our fights and quarrels. I would like her to know that her breakfast, bentos, dinners, and hugs are much appreciated — especially her hugs! Also, that I know she’s been through so much, and that her strength and kindred soul are what I hold onto when I feel down and out. She doesn’t realize (and I probably don’t show her enough) how much my Babba and I appreciate her smile, laughter, and ….nagging(?), no, wait, just kidding, and love :O)

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

My Mom is AWESOME! And yes, my Mom is probably cooler than yours… Hahaha! I’m kidding!… okay, maybe not!


Joanna and Sally

My mom is a strong and nurturing Taiwanese woman.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

My mom is a hard worker, in everything she does. She is very patient and never complains about how much work she has to do. She just “do”. I think that’s the strong Taiwanese side of her. I, however, am still learning.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

My mom loves to cook and is an amazing cook. I remember growing up, she was always hosting dinners and cooking these elaborate dishes. She loves to feed people!

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother or daughter? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

My mom is a strong and nurturing Taiwanese woman. Her motto is “better to take crap from other people than to give crap to other people”. However, we should remain strong, even in the most difficult situations.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mom is an amazing woman. I am proud of her for working three jobs to raise us when we were younger. I am proud of her for striving to succeed as an immigrant. I am proud of her for being the anchor of our family.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mom is not a quitter and she is not afraid to speak her mind. Even in her “not-so-good” English, she will give anyone a piece of her mind (but in a loving way).

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

We’ve always been close, but we fought a lot when I was a teenager and through my early 20s. But now we are super close, even though we live 400 miles apart. We talk on the phone every day.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want her to know that I am proud to be her daughter!


Tiffany and Ling-Ling

I can only hope I can be as good a mother as my mother is to us.



What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

The most important thing I have learned from my mother is to have what she calls “氣質,” which means elegance or class. My mother definitely has this. She doesn’t dress flashy or cover herself with designer labels, but she always makes sure she appears neat and well put-together before she goes out. She never chatters or speak impulsively, and she never loses control of her laughter or her posture, like I sometimes do. And even though I make quite a lot of mistakes, she is patient and never rubs it in my face, and this is another important part of having “氣質.” This is something I have started to learn from my mother, and though I’m no expert yet, it is something I hope to be able to have one day.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother is an inspiring woman because of the endless ways she loves and cares for our family. Every morning, she wakes up with my father, and as he’s getting ready for work, she’s downstairs preparing his breakfast. As my father’s working, my mother is also doing work at home, until my little sister comes back from school. My sister is involved with many activities outside of school, and my mother is always there with her for each one of those activities. In addition to my sister, she also constantly thinks about my little brother and me. We’re both in college, so my mother sends many emails to us throughout the week, asking us how we’re doing and updating us on what’s going on at home. When I have a problem, she gives me advice, or words of encouragement. I often get surprise care packages from my mom, usually consisting of new clothes and vitamins. Every Sunday night, the whole family Skypes for an hour, and as we’re about to sign off, my mom always tells us she loves us. I realize how lucky I am to have a mother like my mother, which is why I decided to submit her name to the project, so I can show that I recognize the hard work she puts into keeping the family happy and close together. I can only hope I can be as good a mother as my mother is to us.


Alice and May

Mommie, you are my best friend forever and ever!



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

My mother has always taught me to be proud of being Taiwanese. From bringing me back to Taiwan every year to teaching me Taiwanese, she constantly reminds me of our family’s roots and culture. I grew passionate about the country’s history and politics under her influence, and love Taiwan because she showed me its many faces of beauty. Although I grew up in the U.S., my mother created a little Taiwan-like haven in our home, never letting me forget where we came from.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I hated going to pre-school. I didn’t want to go to bed while everyone else was still watching TV, and could never wake up on-time in the morning. My mother, however, insisted that at age 4, I needed to go learn and play with the other children. Every morning, she had to “把我挖起來,” give me a piggy-back ride down 4 flights of stairs, feed me breakfast, and drive me to school at the speed limit — all while I was still half asleep.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

Although she looks 10 years younger than her peers, my mother has accomplished 6 times over what many strive to do in a life-time. Between migrating from Taiwan to the U.S., she been a successful pharmacist, optometrist, teacher, and now a business woman — all while fulfilling her responsibilities as the perfect mother (to me) and daughter (to my grandparents). I am always amazed at how well my mother juggled all these different roles, and hope that one day, I can become half as talented as her.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

Mommie, you are my best friend forever and ever! I love you and can’t wait till I finish medical school and residency, and can go home and be your 調皮的小妹妹 again! I am excited to live happily ever after with you — thanks for everything you have done for me, and I can only hope to take care of you in return. *hug*


Karen and Shang-Jing

I want my mom to know that she is my hero.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese?
(妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned that being Taiwanese means being strong, independent, and proud of who you are and where you come from. I also learned that no matter what Dad might think, Taiwanese Moms are always the boss ;)

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

I’ve learned that if you work hard and never give up, you can achieve great things.

My mom is the model of perseverance for me — she went to Kansas State University for graduate school, and lived in a basement apartment with a dirt floor and no insulation. Her desk was a table balanced over two piles of bricks. She didn’t know a single person in this country, let alone in the small town of Manhattan, Kansas. I don’t think I would have survived that, but my mom never gave up. She has come so far and achieved so much since then, and I admire her greatly for that.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me so much — she is smart, funny (mostly on purpose…) and successful. She’s so self-confident, adventurous and always willing to try new things.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want my mom to know that she is my hero — she has sacrificed and overcome so many things, and she is the strongest person I know. I want to be just like her when I “grow up” :)


Christine and Catherine

I love her very much and I am so happy she gave me life!



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

She instilled the idea that we should be proud of the amazing collection of food, culture, and people that come from our small island.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

She successfully taught me how to ride a bicycle and made my hair every day throughout elementary and part of middle school.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

She has taught me to be more outgoing and adventurous. I look forward to soaking up as much knowledge and culture as I can when we travel to other states outside of California or new countries such as Japan.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

Despite being a single mother, she is a strong, no-nonsense woman who has an amazing outlook at life and has a beautiful personality that outshines anyone I have ever met.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me to work hard when I see the lengths she goes to to make sure my sister and I have a wonderful childhood filled with rich memories.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I used to resent her bossing me around compared to my Caucasian friends but I have grown to appreciate it, knowing she is only looking out for my well-being.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I would love my mother to know that I love her very much and I am so happy she gave me life!


Angela and Amy

I would like my mother to know that she is the bombdiggity for being the best mother I know.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned that my mother is very proud of her Taiwanese heritage. She loves her country, the people, and the culture as if the entire island is her family.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I have many childhood memories of my mother. Two memories stand out the most to me. When I was just a toddler I remember my grandfather taking me on a toy horse-ride on the streets in Tainan. I remember crying when the horse stopped moving because I thought it was so much fun! Years and years later when I was in college, I was reminiscing with my mom about that memory. I could tell it was such a bittersweet memory because my grandfather passed away not too long after that. She was afraid that I was too young to remember any memories of the three of us together.

The other memory of my mother was when we moved to America. My mother knew I had a fondness for 空心菜, a veggie that was very hard to grow in the Midwest. However I remember her little garden of tomatoes, green onions and the 空心菜 that she tried so hard to grow. They never turned out as big or leafy as the ones we found in the Asian grocery stores but they tasted much better because, as cheesy as it sounds, they were made with love.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

My mother has taught me many life lessons that will be always a part of me. One of the most important things I’ve learned is being open to new experiences. My mother married my father in Taiwan and moved back to America with him because of his job. The area that they settled in and raised me and my brother did not have a large Taiwanese-American community. Being straight from Taiwan with very little English-speaking skill, my mom took the new lifestyle in stride. She met life-long friends who later became my adoptive American grandmothers. Being such a young foreign mother in America, I would have thought she would seek out other Taiwanese mothers. However, my mom bravely opened up to strangers and learned new cultures. To this day, she joins these American grandmothers on weekly knitting groups. She created life-long friendships by being so open and curious to new experiences. That is one of the most important lessons I learned from my mom.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

I can probably say I am the proudest of my mother. Arguably more than my father being proud of his wife. What makes me so proud of my mother is her perseverance and good heart. Living in a small Midwestern town was tough for my mother. She wanted to find a job and help support my father in raising me and my brother. However, with an accent and no experience working in America, it was difficult finding any employment. I often saw my mother sad but she found ways to help around the family and community that would be a million times more rewarding than a job. She is the best mom. I’m proud of that. She raised me and my brother from a happy childhood to grown adults. She is the one in the community who helps make food for sick friends or visits nursing homes because she is so compassionate to the elderly. Her volunteer services make me so proud and I aspire to be half the mother she is today.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me to do something worthwhile with my life. She has shown me how opportunities can be fleeting and that experiences are lessons. Just thinking how she can come to a country without knowing the language and become a contributing member to society is so inspiring.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

Our relationship has changed since I was younger. As a teenager I would often clash with my mother because of our cultural differences. Thinking back I feel so ashamed how immature I was to WISH my parents were more “American”. As my parents grew to better understand the American culture and I grew to better appreciate my Taiwanese identity; we both came together in a beautiful blend of Taiwanese-American lifestyle. When I went off to college our relationship improved. Being away from home made me miss and appreciate everything my mother did for me. Being a recent graduate from college and trying to be a big girl in the big world has made it harder for me. I miss home and my mother almost daily now.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I would like my mother to know that she is the bombdiggity for being the best mother I know. Her story of coming to America and living here is probably unlike most Taiwanese American mothers. However, her experiences make her stand out like a pink ricecake in a hotpot. I also want to her to know that I am sorry for all the times I shrug her off from talking on the phone or Facebook chat. I want her to know how I appreciate everything she sacrificed to live in America so me and my brother could have the amazing childhood we grew up with.

And that I hope to cook like she can some day.


Lynn and Shirley

My earliest memory of my mom is her laugh… When I hear her laugh, I know that I am home and don’t have to worry about anything.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

She taught me about the Taiwanese language and customs, like respecting my elders and doing well in school. She also taught us kids to love the fresh and savory dishes of Taiwan, like dumplings, turnip cake, and bah zhang.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

My earliest memory of my mom is her laugh. Her laugh is very warm and friendly and it is one of my favorite sounds. When I hear her laugh, I know that I am home and don’t have to worry about anything.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

How to always see the positive in every situation and not to be bothered by the small nuances that happen in life.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

She created her own successful business while raising my brother and me.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

Her attitude towards life. One of her favorite sayings is this: ‘throw away the ball as soon as you get it’. It means that as soon as life throws something at you, make sure to take care of the matter right away so that you don’t have it weighing down on your shoulders. This has always been her philosophy and has helped her find much success and happiness in life.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

Yes, I find that as time goes on, my mom is becoming my best friend as well. We tell jokes to each other, go shopping and just enjoy spending time with each other. Best of all, mom is always there when I need her and is always someone I can talk to.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

That she inspires me to work hard and treat people right. And that I love her very much and she will always be mom to me, even if I don’t get to see her all the time.

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

Just to say thank you to my mom for always supporting me.


Adeney and Phoebe

My mom used to be my guardian and playmate and friend, but she has grown to be my mentor and still, of course, my dearest friend.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

My mom taught me a great deal about my culture, especially about the language and culture. She would always teach me a few words or phrases in Taiwanese from books or songs and show me different types of Taiwanese food and what made them unique.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

One of my earliest memories with my mother is when I was only maybe one or two and I distinctly remember playing in a courtyard with my mom. She taught me a game where you tried to stomp on as many red berries on the ground (fallen from the tree above) as you could and I remember having the time of my life squishing away at the berries.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mom inspires me because she is such a talented person in so many areas. She has a beautiful singing voice (which I lack), calm personality, strong work ethic, great sense of neatness and organization, and a deep wisdom and knowledge that inspires me to try to be like her as I grow older and go off to college.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

My mom used to be my guardian and playmate and friend, but she has grown to be my mentor and still, of course, my dearest friend. Whenever I need advice about clothing or high school problems, she gladly offers me any tips she has gathered from her life experience.


Nina, Mary, and Ashley

I am so proud to be a Taiwanese mother; to carry on the strong traditions passed down to me from my Ahtsoh to my Ahmah to my mom and to me.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

We are a proud people from one of the beautiful countries in the world. We work hard, we’re honest, and we value family. To be Taiwanese is to be the best.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

I always think about the time when my mom and I bought some apples from a street vendor. She picked the most crisp apples they had and put it in a clear plastic bag. When the man gave her a bag after taking her money, my mom noticed that all the apples were bruised. He had switched bags on us. I listened while my courageous mom stood up for herself and demanded to either get a refund or the apples back that she hand-selected. Mom and I rode home in a crowded bus, her chosen bag of crisp shiny apples in hand.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother or daughter? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

My mom has always believed that words can heal, calm, and change someone, but how you say them matters more than anything. With her charm and compassion, she has made disgruntled store clerks smile, gotten warnings instead of tickets, and comforted many a friend.

My daughter has taught me that anything can be accomplished with enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, and sweet little dimples.

Tell us about the ways that your mother or daughter makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mother has overcome myriad life’s hardships, but always with a style and grace that I can only hope to possess one day. She is so beautiful on the inside and out.

My daughter believes the best in everyone, jumps head first into whatever she’s passionate about, and personifies the word spunky. She is her own person and she is such a joy. She loves Jesus with all her heart and wants to tell others about the good news.

Tell us about how your mother or daughter inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

During the 70’s in Taiwan when business was relegated only to men, my mom not only opened a nursery with my dad, but ran it to immense success. She was the brains and the charm behind the thriving company. Her business acumen coupled with down-to-earth relatability inspired me to pursue a career in television journalism without fear. I modeled my work ethic and professionalism after my mom’s own sense of personal integrity.

In my almost-7-year-old girl, I see the most incredible example of carpe diem I’ve ever known. She embraces the here and now and forces you to be there with her. She inspires a sense of wonder in me and faith, not only in God, but that anything truly is possible.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother or daughter changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

As a child, roaming the nearby streets of our home in Chungli, Taiwan with a guitar and a panache for trouble, I was always getting disciplined by my mom. My rear end has seen many a wire hangers in its time. And, believe me, I deserved it. Rambunctious doesn’t even cover it. However, through it all, we’ve always been very playful with each other. To this day, the way we show love is often through playful banter. My mom started out as the disciplinarian, but is now my best friend.

My daughter began seeking autonomy almost immediately after I delivered her. She is a free spirit and a spitfire. My once care-taker role when she was a baby has now been replaced with that of a friendly adviser. I try to give her advice and guidance for these delicate growing years as best as I can.

What is one thing that you would like your mother or daughter to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I want my mom to know that I love her more than she’ll ever know. Through all the vicissitudes of life, I will always be here for her, just like she was for me.

For my daughter, Ashley, I hope she knows that I see how special she is — every little nuance in her smile, every little detail in her personality. She is a gem and I vow not to take her for granted.

Is there anything else you would like to share? (還有甚麼其他妳想和大家分享的關於妳母親/女兒的事?)

I am so proud to be a Taiwanese mother; to carry on the strong traditions passed down to me from my Ahtsoh to my Ahmah to my mom and to me. I will someday pass the baton to my daughter, and she, too, will be a proud Taiwanese mom.

Thanks so much for this opportunity to share about my family, my heart.


Evelyn and Cheryl

This may sound cheesy, but I have the coolest and greatest mom in the whole world.


What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

I learned that even though I wasn’t born in Taiwan and I’m still Taiwanese because it doesn’t matter where you were born or raised being Taiwanese is what you feel inside and who you identify with.

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

My earliest memory of my mother is of her being in the kitchen. My mom always made the best meals and I remember vividly of her packing bento lunches for my father every day when he used to do construction. Every day I would see my father leave for work with this orange bento bucket he would take with him.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

The most important thing I learned from my mother is the importance of hard work and to have a good work ethic. Since my mom had to work at such a young age she has taught my siblings and I that not everything is hand to you in life and hard work always pays off. She also taught us that being selfish doesn’t get you far in life.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mother makes me proud because she came to the US with not much and barely speaking English, but now with hard work and dedication she is a successful business woman. Also she makes me proud because she’s a giving person and always puts family first.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me because she had to work at a young age to help her family. Even though she didn’t grow up with much she’s always worked hard for what she has. Also she inspires me because when she first arrive to the US she was turned down from jobs because her English skills weren’t that great, but she never gave up and worked hard to become the successful person she is today.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

I think over the years I understand my mother better. When I was younger I didn’t understand why my mother worried so much about me, but as I got older I come to understand that she worried so much because she loves me so much and wants me to be safe.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

This may sound cheesy, but I have the coolest and greatest mom in the whole world.


Monica and Sue Hui-Yu

There were a lot of cultural differences both within and outside our home, but she never gave up her standards or values.



What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother or daughter? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

To respect your elders — not just show respect but care for them when they need you. After my Agōng had a stroke, my mom would fly back to Taiwan every few months to help take care of him. This went on for several years. Sometimes she describes how he was when she was younger…an old school kind of dad…reading his newspaper, legs crossed, looking up sternly when she said “Ba…” She was nervous because she needed money for school books but was scared to ask. Still, however stern and distant he might have been he was her father, so she took care of him when he needed her.

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mother moved to the U.S. in her early 20s. She had no community here and we moved around a lot because my father was in the air force. There were a lot of cultural differences both within and outside our home, but she never gave up her standards or values. I think this must have been particularly hard because there were very few Taiwanese around and my father is an all-American kind of guy. Still, she didn’t assimilate. It wasn’t like she wore a t-shirt with “Wo Ai Taiwan!!” emblazoned on it or the flag tattooed on her shoulder. She simply made lifestyle choices (which may or may not be considered Taiwanese) and stuck to them. Growing up I always knew that there are alternative belief systems and standards. Sometimes they clash but it’s just as natural for them to coexist.

When I was little my father, brother and I would go to Catholic mass then scoop up my mom and go to Pizza Hut. I loved Pizza Hut! There was no conflict in this arrangement. Catholicism wasn’t for my mom and she wasn’t going to attend church just because we did or just because the majority of people were Christian. She was Buddhist and had her own beliefs and practices. Period.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

I would like her to know that there are things communicated between mother and daughter that can never be verbalized, which is probably for the best because we might do some sort of damage to each other. We’ve had our arguments but it strengthens who we are.

When I have children she is required to teach them Taiwanese and to be close by so they can run over to her any time they need to. I hope that I am able to be as determined as she was in raising me and in sticking to her values.


Michelle and Eve

To hear my mom tell her story, however, it is filled with excitement and hope. She is an optimist, and despite the difficulties of leaving her sisters and home country, she was able to build a close-knit community of friends…



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? 妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

Hospitality. There is a certain warmth that my mom has to almost everyone she meets. She welcomes all people into her life, including most of my friends! She is naturally curious about who my friends are and knows many of them by name. She is able to create community through simple informal dinners and even just by carpooling. I didn’t realize this was an inherently Taiwanese trait — generous and unexpected hospitality — until visiting Taiwan and meeting my extended family and their neighbors and even street vendors and farmers in the countryside!

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Hope. My mother emigrated to the U.S. with my father when she was 24. She had never been to any other country before. She first worked as a bank teller in Arcadia in Los Angeles in 1978. My parents had very little savings and almost no belongings between them. To hear my mom tell her story, however, it is filled with excitement and hope. She is an optimist, and despite the difficulties of leaving her sisters and home country, she was able to build a close-knit community of friends in New York over the years. When I think about the things I’m going through (finding a job, financially supporting myself, etc.), I think about my mother and how she was able to be excited about the future and not constantly worried about how things will turn out. I hope to possess that calmness and hope about the future.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

Last September, my mother and I went on a trip to Ireland. We spent a week driving through the major cities and also experiencing the rugged landscape of the north and west. As I reach 30, I really want to understand how my mom’s move from Taiwan to the U.S. has shaped her personality. The conversations we are able to have now can address those issues with a depth and also understanding I didn’t have had in my early 20’s. The fun we are able to have together— driving on the right side of the road, drinking Guinness and listening to folk music in a pub— is also not forced and the kind of fun you’d have between two friends who have grown up together.


Kristina and Jane

I may not always express it in the clearest fashion, but I love you, Mom! I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.



Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Of all the early memories I have of my mom, I distinctly remember the first time I was scared that my mom would leave my presence – it was the day she dropped me off at Challenger preschool. It wasn’t exactly a dark and stormy morning, but there were definitely clouds looming over my head as my mom led me into the classroom.

I remember holding onto her hand very tightly, dragging her with me from station to station of toys and games. I remember forcing her to sit down next to me as I nibbled on ice cream. I remember asking her to hold my precious teddy bear while I went to the restroom, then decided that she should come in to the stall with me in case she had the wise idea of running away at that very moment.

I also remember the teacher asking us to go to our cubbies and grab our sleeping gear for nap time. But just as I got up from my seat, I recall my teacher coming up behind me, detaching me from my mom’s hold, and leading me to find my stuff. Shocked as I was, it took me a while to notice that my mom was already gone. I began to cry – wail, to be exact.

After thirty minutes of suffering my torturous cries, the teacher finally called my mom, only because I started to have a pretty bad bloody nose. But all was well again when my mom came to the rescue! I remember giving her a humungous hug, I remember the happiness and comfort I felt when I saw her again, and I remember that I immediately stopped crying, to my teacher’s immense relief, as we walked out the door, hand in hand. That day also happened to be my last day of preschool.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親如何激勵妳?)

It took me 19 years to realize this, but as I transition into adulthood, I’m really starting to see all the sacrifices my mom made for our family. We’ve fought a lot in the past, and I thought of my mom as being a typical “naggy” Taiwanese mom, but now I understand that her intentions and commands are always for my own good! She inspires me through her sacrificing her own time to nurture my siblings and me, taking us to/from music lessons, school, Chinese school, doctor visits, after school events, etc. and putting aside her work (even giving up her job to stay at home with us at one point). She inspires me through her attention to detail and memory of the things my siblings and I do or tell her. She inspires me through her steadfast motivation and hard work in learning new things and pursuing knowledge every day. We don’t always have the best of days, but I truly admire how my mom looks up and strives to be a better and greater person each and every day.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

From my mom, I learned the importance of parental guidance and of being a role model to your children, as they really do look up to you. The phrase “like mother, like daughter” is very true in my family. From the way I speak and act to the way I think and study, I’ve inherited and modeled many of my traits after my mom. Through her, I have learned to study smart and efficiently, to be creative while doing trivial tasks to make them more enjoyable, to learn and discover new things on my own, to have a love for planning events, trips, and surprises, and to be rather talkative at home!

As I grew up seeing my mom more than I see my dad, it was natural for me to follow her example in many, if not all, aspects of my life. When I become a mom one day, I will remember to be the person I want my children to be – to be as loving, caring, and supportive as my mom has been to me.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親知道的?)

I may not always express it in the clearest fashion, but I love you, Mom! Thanks for being so helpful, caring, and patient all these years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.


Lily, Pauline, Rosie, Hope, and Faith

My mother inspires me with her enthusiasm and ability to find happiness and to establish a place for herself wherever she goes.



What did you learn from your mother about being Taiwanese? (妳從妳母親那兒學到甚麼是一個台灣人?)

From my mother I have learned about the different dimensions of being Taiwanese—cultural, political, lingual, and of course, culinary!

Cultural: I grew up celebrating the Taiwanese culture through various traditions, such as making and eating batzang during the Dragon Boat Festival, celebrating Lunar New Year with all the festivities.

Political: My mother taught my siblings and me about Taiwanese history, politics, and identity, and inspired and encouraged us to advocate for an independent and democratic Taiwan.

Lingual: Our family has always been multilingual, which reflects the linguistic diversity of Taiwan—we speak Hoklo Taiwanese and Mandarin, and Hakka (Mom does)

Culinary: My mother taught us to appreciate, to love, and to cook with the diverse flavors and ingredients of Taiwanese cooking; she used to make many traditional Taiwanese eats from scratch (e.g., oyster omelet, ba-wan, Taiwanese rice cakes, batzang, and much more…)

Tell us about one of your earliest memories of your mother. (妳對母親最早的記憶是甚麼?)

Earliest memories include playing with my mother on my parents’ bed with my siblings—Mom would launch us up with her legs into the sky and play “airplane”. I also have wonderful memories of my mother telling us stories after stories about our large extended family.

What is the most important thing you have learned from your mother? (妳從母親/女兒學到的最重要的是甚麼?)

Over the years, I have learned many things from my mother. I will name three important life lessons from my mother:

1) If you can help even one person (e.g., help lift that person from poverty) you have done society a great deed
2) Be flexible, yet be true to your core beliefs
3) Live every minute of your life with boldness and grace (but not entitlement)

Tell us about the ways that your mother makes you proud. (妳母親/女兒讓你感到驕傲的是甚麼?)

My mother is an amazing mother, grandmother, and career woman. She has accomplished a lot in her life. What I admire most about her is her ability to reinvent herself again and again. Yet, she always remains true to her core beliefs, talents, and character. In her early twenties, my mother was a devoted stay-at-home mom. She then had a decade-long stint as a teacher and then director of a highly reputable kindergarten in Taipei. When our family immigrated to the U.S., my mother earned a dual master’s degree in early childhood education and psychology while working part-time as a library assistant, housemaid, and waitress at a Chinese restaurant. She accomplished all of this while raising three elementary school-aged children, while my father, who was also a graduate student, spent long hours at the lab.

When we were in our teens, after several years of working in early start programs my mother changed careers and returned to school for an MBA while working full-time in high-tech. During that time, she managed to be a doting mother, a disciplinarian, as well as an active leader in the San Francisco Bay Area Taiwanese American community.

Once we entered college, when my father expressed a desire to return to Taiwan to further his career and to be closer to my aging grandparents, my mother accompanied him back to their homeland. As a devoted wife and partner to my father, it never occurred to her not to be by his side wherever he chose to go. Plus, she was bold and flexible: she could go anywhere and create something grand for herself. That was exactly what she did. During my parents’ decade-long residence in Taiwan, my mother served as the vice president of the global supply chain division for one of the largest Taiwanese multinationals in the world. Every other weekend, she and my father visited their respective parents in Southern Taiwan. She also made time to campaign for the first and second democratically elected presidents in Taiwan. At the height of her career, my mother also traveled the world — North and South American, Eastern and Western Europe, and all over Asia—for business.

When it was time to return to America, my mother once again reinvented herself. She returned to her first career as if she never left the profession. She is now an accomplished social worker who administers a federal program that places infants and toddlers with special needs into early intervention programs. She has a special heart for and interest in the Asian American community where children with learning differences are often ignored, hid, or shunned.

Career aside, my mother would tell you that she lives for her family, which now includes 5 grandchildren. She helps care for my brother’s children on a weekly basis. My niece and nephew love spending time at “A-ma and A-gon’s” home. Every other month, my mother flies to Seattle to spend quality time with my twin toddlers/daughters. My mother also fits in time to jet-set to the East Coast to spend time with my twin sister’s son several times a year. My mother has never missed an opportunity to learn and grow, whether at age 25 or 60.

Tell us about how your mother inspires you. (妳的母親/女兒如何激勵妳?)

My mother inspires me with her enthusiasm and ability to find happiness and to establish a place for herself wherever she goes.

As time has gone on, how has your relationship with your mother changed? (隨著年歲的增長,妳們母女關係有怎麼樣的變化?)

As time has gone by, our relationship has only deepened and broadened. Now that I have my own children (also twins!) I turn to my mom more and more for her advice and wisdom. I think the fact that I also gave birth to twin daughters has deepen our bond. She is a wonderful grandmother to my daughters and to all her other grandchildren.

What is one thing that you would like your mother to know? (有那件事是妳希望讓妳的母親/女兒知道的?)

Mom, I love you very much and you are an inspiration to me, Rosie, Peter, our spouses, and all your grandchildren.


Jason Lee – President of Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers at Purdue University

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

As a Taiwanese American at Purdue University, I witness the struggles many of my fellow APA peers face when looking for industrial opportunities.


Who are you?

I am a Taiwanese American studying Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. Currently I am in my 7th semester at school graduating in December as being on internships during the school year has pushed my graduation date back. I was raised in a traditional Taiwanese household and spent half my childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio and the other half in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up I always enjoyed playing sports like tennis, basketball, and soccer. Some hobbies that I also picked up on the way were Chinese Yo-Yo and breakdancing. Every Sunday as a child from Kindergarten to high school, I learned about Chinese history, culture, and language at the Chinese School nearby my house. This is where I met most of my Taiwanese friends as my American school had a very small Taiwanese population.

I believe it wasn’t until college that I fully grasped my identity. Being in a more autonomous environment, I had now a choice of who I wanted to spend my free time as opposed to my parents choosing who I would meet and hang out with. My freshman year I didn’t really put much effort into trying to meet people of Asian descent as I was satisfied with hanging out with non-Asian people, but the years following, I realized that although I was born and raised in America, I love Asian culture – the food, the events, the spirit, so I joined the Asian American Association where I met a lot of people of Asian descent whom I’m still very close with today. Spending time with those members allowed me to both celebrate the Asian cultural side of us as well as the American side that we shared. It was then that I was finally able to bridge the two worlds and find the midpoint to where I belong.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Only 1% of Fortune 500 companies are held by Asian-Pacific Americans (APAs). This is a very minute amount considering that APAs have the highest percentage of any racial group in graduating from college – 44% versus the 27% for the average U.S. population. These statistical findings no doubt affirm the intelligence of this race, but in the same token, reveals many APA’s deficiency in behaviors that are highly valued in American culture: aggressiveness and assertiveness. Contrarily, many APAs exemplify behaviors that are strongly pre-disposed to their ethnic background: passiveness and humility. Although these behaviors are not undesirable qualities, they translate to corporate Americans as the inability to stand up for ones beliefs and make his/her own decisions – hence, hindering the possibility of vertical movement within a company.

The mission of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers is to prepare APAs for the global business world. In order to achieve this, besides acting as a network channel, SASE provides events that focus on developing an individual to be globally diverse, meaning SASE’s events would teach students to integrate the values of different cultures and allow them to create their own unique bundled identity.

As a Taiwanese American at Purdue University, I witness the struggles many of my fellow APA peers face when looking for industrial opportunities. As a senior in college now, I have accumulated a total of four internship sessions with two different companies and entering my fifth this summer with another company; my goal within the organization is to help my younger peers develop the qualities that are valued within corporate culture so that they too can be successful in landing industrial opportunities during their school career. I believe that it is crucial for every student to be exposed to the corporate environment before they graduate so they not only have solid lines on their resume but are able to experience an atmosphere that encourages the development of soft skills that would otherwise not be as well sharpened at school. Had I not had these internships, I would definitely have had a more narrow perspective of my discipline and not have had as an effective set of soft skills that I have today.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

Our organization is relatively new and was just established in Fall 2010. Since its inception, the society has had its ups and downs due to some problems in the management. When I joined the board, there were only three people left of the ten who were in it the semester before. This showed the impact of bad management and how it can break trust – in addition to the loss of many board members, a lot of active members also stopped coming to the events. I knew that if something wasn’t done, this society would fall apart. Therefore, the first thing I did was to establish a vision for our society. I challenged the other board members to ask themselves why they would join and be a member of this society if they were just another Purdue student. Placing them in this position allowed them to think about what they wanted our society to accomplish and what goals we wanted to set. Currently, our membership has increased as well as our board as a result of work that this board’s contributed this semester. I can easily attest that passion played a large role in driving my fellow board members and I to put forth lots of effort to make these events successful.

There is so much potential for this society as many people can benefit from it. We organize professional workshops, invite distinguished professors to speak, set up info sessions for sponsoring companies, service the community, and enhance the global experience. Unfortunately, a lot of Asians do not feel the need to join a society. In Asia, the employment trends seem to more commonly correlate academic credentials to employment as opposed to America where people look at more than just academic standings to judge someone’s ability to be successful at the workplace; they look at industrial experiences, leadership roles in organizations, etc. My hope is that many of the current members in our society will thrive from being a part of it and that their success spreads among their Asian communities, so that other people will see the benefits of joining and growing from it.


Andrea “Chuey” Chu – President of Taiwanese American Student Association at The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

One thing that I’ve discovered that no leader can be without is a vision.


Who are you?

Yes, I go by Chuey, like Chewbacca. I’m a proud buckeye, going to THE Ohio State University, majoring in environmental science and minoring in art. I was born and raised in Ohio, and growing up the Midwest has really shaped my identity as an Asian American, and more specifically, a Taiwanese American. In being part of a smaller Taiwanese community in Columbus, there has always been a touch of fighting spirit in me to make sure that Taiwan is recognized. I bring fire, passion, and excitement to everything I do, be it my student organization, my job, or my hobbies. With my strengths, I hope to help the world become a better, more sustainable place.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) at Ohio State is a relatively new student organization, and with over 1,000 other student organizations on campus, it can be difficult to make your voice heard and to make a difference. But I think we have done just that. With the friendly Taiwanese spirit, we have made TASA an organization that Taiwanese Americans and friends can feel at home. With a wide variety of activities, from bubble tea nights that remind you of hot sticky evenings in Taiwan, to serious discussions on Asian American issues of the day, we explore what it really means to be Taiwanese American. We sprouted from a baby student organization to one of the most well-known and active Asian American organizations in under three years. We even got a little national attention for it. We won the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association’s Best New TASA award, as well as the bid to host the ITASA Midwest Regional Conference for 2013. It will be the first conference ever to be held in Ohio, and we are extremely excited to be drawing students from all over the Midwest to celebrate what it means to be Taiwanese American!

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

One thing that I’ve discovered that no leader can be without is a vision. Without a clear idea of what you are reaching for, there is no achieving it. With every project, every event, every meeting, I make sure that not only I know what I am striving for, but my whole team is on the same page as well. I firmly believe that if you are going to do something, it should be clear why it is important.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

One of my dreams is to see the Taiwanese American community in the Midwest grow. I come from a city that has a Taiwanese community, but it is a little isolated, like an island. I want to see the archipelago of communities link together to form a stronger, cohesive presence and enter the wider discussion with other Taiwanese American communities. When Columbus has a close link not only to Cleveland, but to Chicago and Pittsburgh and Madison and everything in between, that’s when we have a stronger voice.


Jasmine Yu – President of the Asian Pacific American Coalition at Illinois State University

Illinois State University, Normal, IL

A good leader doesn’t lead for themselves, they lead to influence and inspire others.


Who are you?

I am a Taiwanese American that is fortunate, passionate, and a believer. I currently am ending my second year in college and am the oldest of 3 children from Naperville, IL. All through my life I have been dancing specializing in ballet then finally opening up to different types such as contemporary in high school. Dance is something that I am very passionate about. Currently I do not have time to partake in this activity because of time and scheduling but now I am a member of the Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University. I am a part four acts: Lyric Hoop, Tightwire, Triple Trapeze, and Bike for Ten. I started participating in this circus my freshman year when I was introduced to all of it during their open house and have been hooked ever since. I participate in the Asian Pacific American Coalition at Illinois State University and love what I’m doing for this organization. We are the umbrella organization for all Asian ethnicites and communities. I have also participated in Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF) for the past two summers. I have been heavily impacted by my experience there and by the people that are so open to willing to listen. I was fortunate enough to be a Youth camper my first year and experienced TAF love. My second summer I was a Juniors counselor and was so happy to interact with the kids and my fellow counselors in a different way. I love my Taiwanese culture, and learning about new cultures. I love my family, my friends, and everyone that is part of my Taiwanese heritage.

My passions have been in creative outlets and helping others. I wish to be a positive influence on others, especially with my future career as an educator. My goal is to become an ESL (English second language) instructor for Elementary school students. I want to be able to do this in Taiwan for at least a couple years and give back to my culture in that sense as I am learning more about it.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Asian Pacific American Coalition has had a great impact on my life. This organization has a mission statement of promoting, educating, supporting, and providing Asian Pacific and Asian Pacific American culture (communities). As the umbrella organization on campus and part of the four Diversity Advocacy Organizations, it is the Asian organization that unites all ethnicities and interested students/faculty/community members.

One of the most memorable things about this organization that has affected my life is how friendly and open this organization is. Coming into college and meeting some of the most influential people in my life is something that I did not expect to achieve right away. Joining this organization, it has given me a chance to take part in the mission. I was a supportive general assembly member going to almost every event they held during my freshman year. I felt like I wanted to become more involved and step outside my comfort zone. So I applied to the public relations position, causing me to approach others that I did not know and networking resulting in friendships and gain of new club members. After a year of being a part of the executive board, I felt like I wanted to do more and that I could help continue the growth of APAC. So I applied and received the opportunity to be president of the organization for this upcoming year. I feel like not only my leadership but also with my executive board member’s leadership and values we can lead APAC to achieve its overall goals of making ourselves known on campus and promoting, educating, supporting, and providing Asian Pacific and Asian Pacific American culture for the ISU community.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I learned a lot over just these few years about leadership. Some is advice, some workshops, and a conference or two. There are a few keys things that keep me inspired and motivated as a leader. In order to be a good leader, you need to be a good follower. So with that mindset you need to lead by example. You also need to have an open-mind especially when suggestions are given that you might not initially agree with. You never know what you might learn and knowing that knowledge is power can help you succeed.

Growing from failure is also another aspect of leadership that can build and help you grow into a better leader.
There’s a quote that I learned from a conference I went to that I think really applies to being a good leader: “Leadership is about connecting with people, inspiring people to do their best.” A good leader doesn’t lead for themselves, they lead to influence and inspire others.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese, American born, I was only influenced by the amount of culture that my parents/family exposed me too. Luckily for me, my family is pretty involved with the Asian culture community always promoting and setting up performances that usually take place in May, APA heritage month, and during Taiwanese Heritage week.

I’m proud of the how far the Taiwanese community has come, with the U.S. census, the fight to become an independent country, and even the exposure of just people knowing of where Taiwan is on the map and that it is a different country than China.

I’m proud of the culture that Taiwan has built up and is starting to make known throughout the world. I’m proud of all the influential people that are Taiwanese making a difference, making an impact, and hoping that I can do the same.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Even more influential people, especially young people wanting to make an impact on the world stressing their Taiwanese culture wanting to share it with everyone else.

An even stronger Taiwanese community.

An even stronger Taiwanese Identity.


William Leu – President of Purdue University Asian American Association

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

In my attempts at being an effective, transformative, charismatic leader I look towards my mother and father and how they as immigrant business owners with limited English speaking ability are still able to garner the respect of their employees.


Who are you?

I am a second-generation Taiwanese American born and raised in Miami, Florida and somehow ended up at college in the heart of Indiana. I am the youngest of three siblings and the most stress-inducing son for Carl and Limin Leu.

I am a student at Purdue University and am majoring in Sociology and was one of the first students to complete the newly introduced Asian American Studies minor. I am also the outgoing-President for the Purdue University Asian American Association and prior to that position I was the Social co-chair of the club. I have also been involved in the lower rungs of Purdue Student Government.

I am a writer, and more than writing I love to perform my writing through spoken word. I have had the opportunity to perform for various cultural shows, talent/variety shows, poetry nights, and within the privacy of my friends and family.

I am a leader within the student community here at Purdue. I love the Asian-American/Asian student body here at Purdue, and I love this eclectic mix of cultures that we have all brought together to this campus. But there was a need to be able to better organize and present ourselves to the student body. It was one of my goals during my tenure to help bridge relations between our various Asian organizations in order to provide a stronger and more effective type of student organization, not just for our own community of students, but for the student body as a whole.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I am a mentor within my organization at school. I make it my goal to find, groom, and elevate young Asian Americans within Purdue to positions of leadership within our club.

The purpose of our organization was to originally act as a social club, during my tenure we tried our best to shift our focus from social aspects to more cultural aspects. Coming into Purdue our Asian American Association was weak, disorganized, and was more of a blight than a highlight of the Asian American community on campus. I along with a few dedicated individuals joined the organization for the sole purpose of reversing the clubs downward trend and to bring it to a level of prominence where students would be proud and anxious to join.

Every activity we host we always try to make sure it is in align with the core values that all the officer’s share, to promote community, to provide an opportunity to create friendships, and if possible promote some type of cultural awareness.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

As a leader I look towards the graduate students or faculty that have had an influence in my life in helping me in finding my identity as an Asian-American along with encouraging my growth as a writer and leader.

In my attempts at being an effective, transformative, charismatic leader I look towards my mother and father and how they as immigrant business owners with limited English speaking ability are still able to garner the respect of their employees.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

My hope is that the foundation that I along with my fellow senior officers have laid will be put to use by the next generation of AAA officers.

I hope that we have done enough to streamline the social event planning aspect of our organization that our new officers can then have more time to focus on more cultural events for our club.

I hope that one day the schism found between the Asian American orgs and Asian orgs at Purdue will be healed by the continued efforts of our officers.

I hope that a unified pan-Asian org front can spearhead the steps towards getting an Asian American/ Asian Cultural Center at Purdue.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I have only recently begun to explore my Taiwanese heritage as well as getting to know the Taiwanese-American community here in the Midwest. I have yet to really comprehend what it is about being Taiwanese that I should be proud of, but I do know that I am proud of one aspect of our heritage, and that is our penchant for community building.

That theme is especially prevalent with the Taiwanese American Foundation. Seeing what that organization has sought out to do and how they go about doing it, just makes me extremely proud knowing the dedication that we as Taiwanese Americans have towards our youth.

Ah yes and Jeremy Lin.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

More dreamers, more athletes, more artists to supplement our presence in the math and sciences.

My son WILL be the first Taiwanese-American football player to be drafted into the NFL.


Stephanie Chang – Co-President of UIUC Taiwanese American Students Club

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

I have really come to realize just how complex and beautiful the Taiwanese and Taiwanese American culture is.


Who are you?

I am a rising senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign currently studying history and political science. Born and raised in a northwest suburb of Chicago, I grew up with my older sister, my two Taiwanese immigrant parents, and grandfather. Initially entering college under the intentions of being Pre-Med, I eventually switched and am now currently on the path to attend grad school to study history with a focus on Asian American studies. In my free time, I love to eat (LOTS!!), learn different languages (though not well), sing (loudly) and dance (frantically!) in the shower, but my passions lie quite deeply within the APA cause.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

To be honest, the mission of the Taiwanese American Students Club (TASC) at UIUC is interpreted rather differently by each individual participant. What it means to be part of TASC and to be Taiwanese American varies so much on this campus- but that’s what the beauty is of being part of TASC and this community. It’s refreshing to have such diversity!

But for me, TASC is focused primarily on the development of the Taiwanese American identity and sense of APA community on campus and (ambitiously speaking) the world. I actually was not interested in being part of TASC initially- but through the encouragement of my roommate and other friends, I joined, and haven’t looked back once. I got on board with the position of cultural advocate, and through this experience, I realized that what people want to discover about Taiwanese American culture reached way beyond cups of boba, Taipei 101, dumplings, and night markets. What I found, instead, was a desire to really acknowledge, celebrate, and redefine what it means to be Taiwanese American. This past year, I was VP- Internal, which gave me the privilege to work much more closely with the various board members. I strived to motivate each individual to find their own voice and embrace this identity wholeheartedly.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

The majority of my motivation is derived from working with other passionate student leaders from TASC and other APA and University organizations. Seeing how much some of my peers have accomplished for themselves, their RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) and the campus community, it motivates me to really push myself. Their visions, goals, and dreams only help me to define my own and impel me to become a stronger student leader. It is also incredibly fun working with such vivacious and dedicated individuals- it makes all of my hard work 100% worth it! I also really love working with younger, newer members. Their budding passions and excitement motivates me to keep an open mind and serve as reminders that there is greater change to come!

As for UIUC TASC, I hope to develop an organization that will consist of ALL members (this being board and general members) that are motivated individuals to make change. While I don’t really mind whether or not this change is APA focused or not (though it would be very nice if it was), I just want the participants to become inspired by our organization to discover their own passions and go change the world!

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I would really also like UIUC TASC to really take on the role of a trailblazer. While currently the APA community is most definitely growing, it still has quite a way to go. I feel UIUC TASC has great, great potential to embrace its role as a leader in this revolution and begin to break down the restrictive norms and societal constrictions we face as a minority population in the US. I want TASC to become the instigator, the challenger that crushes those social boundaries as we accept our strength as Taiwanese and APA youth.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My Taiwanese heritage is something that is very special to me. As a second generation Taiwanese American, I recognize the difficulty in coming to terms with dual/ multiple identities. However, through my own personal cultural growth in these past three years, I have really come to realize just how complex and beautiful the Taiwanese and Taiwanese American culture is. My challenge to all Taiwanese Americans out there: embrace this complexity! It will only prove to be an incredibly rewarding and enriching decision that will undoubtedly strengthen you as an individual.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Taiwanese America, I think, has a beautiful and promising future. Through my experiences on the UIUC campus, I have witnessed the great development of the APA and Taiwanese American identity. It’s very inspirational! There is incredible strength that lies within this community and as more and more individuals begin to discover its potential, it only continues to grow. While some people fear talking about race, ethnicity, and diversity on a deeper level, I only see a developing desire to delve in and reclaim our identities within this community. Go Taiwanese America! I’m excited to see what changes the future has in store.


Jennifer Chen – Former Co-President of Georgetown University’s Taiwanese American Student Association

Georgetown University, Washington, DC

I believe that change needs to originate from within. If I want to see something happen, I will have to be the one to make it happen; if students want others to be proactive, they will have to become proactive first themselves.

Who are you?

I was born in Taipei, raised in Rome and Bangkok, and am currently a senior majoring in international politics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. I am the former Co-President for Georgetown University’s Taiwanese American Student Association, as well as the Manager for the Hoyas in Greater China Internship Program. I take part in these activities because I want to share my passion for Taiwan with other people. I enjoy showcasing Taiwan’s unique traditions through cultural, social, and educational activities. During my free time, I like to hike, bake Oreo cookies, grow plants from eggshells and watch pandas sleep. In the future, I want travel the world and become a professional food critic.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Georgetown’s Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) is a student organization that aims to promote Taiwanese culture. I became part of TASA since its founding in 2008. We started from three to five core members and developed into a forty-member and growing organization. From 2008 to 2010, I hosted a speaker event to discuss cross-strait relations, held an ITASA leadership retreat for TASAs in the Mid-Atlantic region, fundraised for Typhoon Morakot, and many more. To help advance interest in Taiwan, we also founded the Hoyas in Greater China Internship Program, which offers Georgetown students opportunities work experience in a diverse array of industries in Taipei, Beijing and Shanghai. Its industries include law, government, finance and non-profit. Last year was our pilot year, and we successfully sent eight students abroad through our program.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I believe that change needs to originate from within. If I want to see something happen, I will have to be the one to make it happen; if students want others to be proactive, they will have to become proactive first themselves.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

TASA has, and will continue to, reach out to those in DC, the US, and across the Pacific, to Taiwan. We have participated in Mid-Atlantic regional events, attended ITASA national conferences, and sent students interested in the Taiwan abroad to the island. Taiwanese students coming to the US also reach out to TASA for guidance. I see TASA as the center for resources and support for those who care about Taiwan and Taiwanese Americans.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwan is my home — not “home home” or “homeee,” but “home.” Though I lived in three different countries while growing up, whenever I long for a sense of coziness and security, I think of Taiwan. I am proud to be Taiwanese because we are those who fought relentlessly for a democratic system, underwent rapid economic growth that surprised the rest of the world, sang 手牽手 to help each other to stay close and strong in times of crises, and invented the best drink ever existed: bubble tea.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Taiwanese Americans are ACTIVE (amazing, creative, talented, inspiring, vibrant and enthusiastic). Our strong sense of community is what will continue to drive us in the future.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I like to eat blueberry crumble ice-cream while watching animal videos.


Donna Lee – PhD Research in Artificial Intelligence for Video Games

UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

Currently I’m leading an initiative to organize the most well educated individuals in the bay area to steward our influence in ways that will transform the world.

Who are you?

I’m a Computer Science PhD student at the University of California Santa Cruz. I grew up in a Taiwanese-American Buddhist family and had a life-changing moment with God when I was 10 years old. As a young child, I loved playing video games and have grown to appreciate the expressive power in interactive technology. Jazz is my favorite type of music, as it beautifully captures the reality and rawness of our human nature. People who play jazz music are heroes to me, because of the sacrifice they make to be true to themselves. Living for something real can be a lonely road, and none has experienced this more than Jesus Christ.

For my career, I research the use of Artificial Intelligence in expanding the possibilities of storytelling in video games. I’ve presented most of my work at various academic and commercial video game conferences. More accessibly, I’m a game and culture blogger, doing other projects such as video journalism for the game industry and author for game and culture books. Currently, I’m one of the coordinators for the Christian Game Developers Conference and the Monterey Jazz Festival. I’m also a band leader for the Terminal Degree Jazz Band, a group of Science and Engineering PhD students and friends that play gigs all around Santa Cruz.

In my community, I’ve organized a number of events to help bring Christians together to inspire and help the needs of our city. In my school, I’ve created my own seminars to help educate people on the cutting edge research in new technology. In my lifetime I aim to see the world transformed and unified through faith, music, and technology.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I’ve had the privilege to serve so many organizations all throughout my life. Currently I’m leading an initiative to organize the most well educated individuals in the bay area to steward our influence in ways that will transform the world. I’ve been constantly networking with PhD students from Berkeley, Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, and UC San Francisco. Of all my other leadership endeavors, this is at a comparably early stage; however, it’s the movement that I am most passionate about. Pictures, photos, and stories are all documented on my blog. I believe through a sincere friendship with people passionate about the same things, we can accomplish goals such as: (1) sending professors overseas to countries that need academic reinforcements, (2) bridging the education gap among social classes within the US and internationally, (3) inspiring a a generation of students that will never have to deal with apathy or lack of purpose. In regards to my own story, it’s basically, seeing the need, finding a solution, finding the resources and making the friends, and not letting go of that vision. I’ve made many friends along the way, and things definitely move slower than I’d like to see; however, the possibilities are worth the wait. This movement is called Reclaim! Currently, we’re blogging and trying to plan our next big event, scheduled for 2012.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I am most inspired by Jazz cats, hackers, and missionaries. There would be no greater honor than to be part of these three communities.

Jazz music keeps a person sane in a world that holds strongly to a status quo. The culture and musicians inspire me to consider the possibilities and push to find my own voice and message. The reverence that Jazz music has for its history points to key individuals that did what was true to them despite what everyone else was doing. Jazz music connects you without conforming you.

In Silicon Valley, my profession, and research communities, I’ve met some of the most inspiring individuals. In the hacker culture, you don’t settle for how things are, because anything worth using is worth understanding. These people hold me accountable, that any statement worth stating should be proven first. If you can dream it, then you better be able to build it. So many people build their dreams daily, and I see it through game developers, app developers, web developers, and other engineers.

Finally, missionaries inspire and motivate me as a student leader, because the go into the darkest in the world, bringing hope. I aspire to have the love and vision that it takes to be a missionary and live through the worst in hope for the best.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I hope to inspire a world through faith, music, and technology. I want to see a world that makes the most of the influence they’ve been given, and that the live lives worthy of the calling they have received. My organization will find answers for the most hopeless problems and bring light to the darkest places of the world. Reclaim!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m a second generation Taiwanese American and have spent part of my childhood in Taiwan. I’m proud to have these ties to the East in a time when so many exciting changes are happening. There’s indeed and increase and shifts in the sort of influence we are gaining in the East, and I have to privilege to in direct connection to what is going on in all of Asia, through Taiwan.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

As international and cross-cultural interactions become more prominent, Taiwanese-Americans have a big role in effecting how and at what rate the world changes. There are three interesting things that have been emerging from the Taiwanese Americans over the decades: (1) introducing and translating the aspects of Eastern culture to the West, (2) Western Culture to the East, (3) and developing our own rich and unique culture among the two.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I would be a professor in Afghanistan and North Korea if someone gave me the opportunity to, but also MIT or Stanford. I could see myself living in a mud hut, eating rice everyday or traveling first class around the world living in 7 star hotels. I’m happy as long as I can play Jazz on my tenor saxophone and love people; although, having a computer with internet now and then would be nice too.


Wells Ling – Graduate Student and VP of the Taiwanese Student Association at St Louis University

St. Louis University, Saint Louis, MO

I hope that one day, all Taiwanese Americans are knowledgeable about their culture, heritage, and mostly their language.  I want us to be proud of where we have come from and to respect the sacrifices our family made for us to get here.

Who are you?

I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri with a brief two year stop at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to get my B.S. in psychology. I am a second generation Taiwanese American and a current graduate student in developmental psychology at Saint Louis University. My research focus is on Asian Americans and ethnic identity development. I am also vice president of the Taiwanese Student Association here at Saint Louis University.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

My interest in Asian Americans and identity development is rooted in my own development as a Taiwanese American and the way I came to this identity. I was always curious to know if others came to their identity the same way I did or if they took different routes and how well that route worked for them. I hope to explain the factors that encourage ethnic identity exploration and through this I plan to help other Asian Americans develop an appreciation of their native culture and to provide them with the resources and encouragement to help develop their ethnic identity. I am currently working on three studies that will look at the effects of parenting styles on a child’s interest in exploring their ethnic identity. Another is exploring the way in which different variations of encountered racism affects one’s interest in exploring one’s ethnic identity. My last study examines the role of generational distance (first generation or fifth generation) of Asian Americans on interest in exploring ethnic identity. As vice president of the Taiwanese Student Association, I work with a great group of international students as well as American born Taiwanese students at the University. We provide a valuable resource for the international students by helping them ease their longing for home and getting them comfortable for a new life in the United States. For the Taiwanese Americans, we provide cultural events that are both informative and fun. We also provide a forum for Taiwanese Americans and international students to discuss issues and interests regarding Taiwan and the world.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My motivation as a leader really comes from several places: the Taiwanese people at this school, the Taiwanese Americans all over the United States I could potentially help with my research, and lastly myself. I feel that a good amount of motivation to serve on board of TSA and to do research regarding Asian Americans, comes from myself and my past experiences. Growing up in a Midwestern town, I did not have a lot of resources to learn about my culture. This experience motivates me to provide the Taiwanese Americans that I encounter the best possible chance to successfully explore their ethnic identity if they choose. My advice to student leaders is to have both your own goals and aspirations and to work together on events and issues that the members of your association find entertaining and fun. I think the whole point of being a part of a Taiwanese group is to celebrate our common heritage. Your own goals and aspirations provide a direction for your association or club to go towards while listening to your club’s members allows them to feel included, giving them a sense of belonging and pride.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I would love to once and for all figure out what promotes interest in ethnic identity. My hope is that with this information, I can help develop a new generation of proud Taiwanese Americans who are culturally knowledgeable and who are happy with their identity. I hope that my research will make me prominent within my field and that I can use my stature to promote ethnic studies even further.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Taiwanese America to me is a place where people recognize that we as Taiwanese are unique. That what applies to China and the rest of Asia affects us differently. I also hope that we as a group can educate others on what it means to be Taiwanese and that there is so much more to Taiwan than factories that build cheap toys for McDonald’s. I hope that one day, all Taiwanese Americans are knowledgeable about their culture, heritage, and mostly their language.  I want us to be proud of where we have come from and to respect the sacrifices our family made for us to get here. I hope that we as a group can come together and give a voice where we are heard and taken seriously.

Any additional information you would like to share?

As I have stated before, I am currently conducting research about ethnic identity development in Asian Americans (not just Taiwanese).  My current research is focused on Asian Americans from 18-25 years of age, but future studies may require other age ranges. If you are interested in helping to further our knowledge of identity development in any of these studies or any future studies, please e-mail me at [email protected] I hope to develop a data base of interested Asian Americans. If you know of anyone else willing to participate please pass along the e-mail address.


Daphne Hong – Past President of UT Taiwanese American Students Association

UT Austin, Austin, TX

The Taiwanese American identity is still something that is new in Texas. Most people identify as only Taiwanese or even Chinese, much less as an Asian American. I wanted to create an atmosphere where they could bond, have fun events, and develop their identity.

Who are you?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American born and raised in Arlington, Tx. When I was younger, my parents would let me watch a lot of Taiwanese dramas and Chinese historical dramas. I fell in love with my culture and language.

Currently, I am a 2nd year graduate student in UT Austin College of Pharmacy. When I’m not studying, playing, or doing something with my organizations, I am always searching for food. It’s so fun going around Austin, trying out the different hole-in-wall restaurants!

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I’ve been historian, vice president, and president ’11-‘12 for Asian Pharmacy Students Association; social chair for APhA, and taken officer roles for many other organizations, but the organization that had the most influence on me has been the UT Taiwanese American Students Association (TASA).

When I first joined TASA my freshman year, it was a very small organization, consisting mainly of a small group of friends. I fell in love with that close-knit group because we brought together our Taiwanese identity and it was an excuse to get together and have fun. Throughout the years, I’ve been an Junior Officer, VP Internal (for 2 years), and President and I’ve loved every minute of it. My biggest accomplishment would be coordinating both the 6th and 7th Annual Night Market, which showcases the night market culture in Taiwan. After a lot of hard work and help from my team members, we were able to increase the attendance from 500 attendees to over 1000 people, triple the budget, add a photo booth station. Following that, I advised the last two night market coordinators, who have now added the green onion pancake stand/shaved ice station.

The Taiwanese American identity is still something that is new in Texas. Most people identify as only Taiwanese or even Chinese, much less as an Asian American. I wanted to create an atmosphere where they could bond, have fun events, and develop their identity. I wanted TASA to be a place where people can make lifelong friendships, especially since that is what it had done for me.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

From my involvement in TASA, the most gratifying moments for me would occur at the height of our night market events. Just standing there and seeing the crowd enjoy themselves makes me realize how many people we reached out to and introduced to Taiwanese culture. It makes me feel like I made a contribution to the lives of others by putting out such a large scale event that they enjoy. Since I stopped coordinating Night Market, I have continued to stay involved as an advisor to the event coordinators after me. I make sure to share how I felt in those moments when the event is in full swing and I’m finally able to breath that sign of relief because we once again pulled off another great event!

In addition to that, I love giving back to the organization that helped me develop myself as a leader as well as the one I met many of my close friends through. I knew from the very moment I joined TASA that I would love being part of it, so I applied for a junior officer position. Almost all of my UT friends throughout my undergraduate years have been TASA members and I’ve learned so much from each and every one of them! I wanted to do what I could for TASA and help out by being a leader. I wanted to give the younger, incoming students what I was given and provide them with as great an experience as I had.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

Although there is a significant student population that is Taiwanese at UT, many students become more involved in other organizations due to the plethora of student organizations at UT. Due to this, TASA should continue to work hard at reaching out to other organizations on campus and in the local communities in order to promote Taiwanese and Taiwanese American culture even more so! TASA is a great resource to showcase our rich culture, delicious food, and amazing people. With our large scale events like the annual TASA Night Markets, we will demonstrate our Taiwanese heritage to all the Taiwanese students at UT as well as better educate and expose the uniqueness of our culture to the UT campus. I envision TASA to be an organization where lifelong friendship is made; people connected together by memories made in TASA and the bond of being a Taiwanese American.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Currently, my friends and I are starting up an Austin branch of the Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) organization. We hope to create a community and network in Austin to connect Taiwanese Americans in their post collegiate years.

TASA website- http://studentorgs.utexas.edu/tasa/home.shtml

My friend, Peter Petrzala- TASA Co-President ’10-’11, and I started a Taiwanese food blogsite together!
http://theasianchildsproject.blogspot.com/


Lillian Cheng – Northwestern Alumni Association Student Director

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

I really believe that the world is filled with incredible people. To improve ourselves and to become better leaders, all we need to do is look around and learn from one another.

Who are you?

I am the only child of parents originally from Taipei, who now reside in Troy, Michigan.  Currently, I am a senior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

At Northwestern, I’m a Political Science and English major; while heavily involved academically, I have spent a significant component of my undergraduate career outside of the academic sphere, engaged in various on-campus extracurricular activities, primarily those pertaining to student advocacy and civic engagement.  Indeed, outside of my role with the Northwestern Alumni Association, I’ve worked extensively with the Northwestern Residential College Board and the Associated Student Government.  During my sophomore year, I also founded NU Decides, a civic engagement-oriented organization that registered over 1,300 students to vote in the 2008 Presidential election.

All of these experiences have ultimately led me to develop a strong interest in the intersection between U.S. national security policy and the legal system.  As an extension of this interest, I’d like to eventually attend law school and serve as a prosecutor for the federal government.

At the same time, however, my professional aspirations are not solely limited to the legal sphere; I am extremely honored and excited to have the opportunity to work for the Boston Consulting Group, an international management strategy consulting firm in Chicago, following my graduation from Northwestern.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

As the Student Director of the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA), I sit on the university’s Alumni Board as the direct liaison between the Northwestern undergraduate student body and its representative alumni organization. As many would say, I serve as the eyes and ears on campus for the NAA Board, so as to help it meet the ever changing needs of the undergraduate population.

Outside of assisting in various university policy decisions, I have spent much of my Student Director term helping to refine the Alumni Association’s programmatic offerings to the student body. To do this, we have developed strong relationships both internally at Northwestern, reaching out to key student leaders to solicit feedback on NAA events and activities, while also connecting outwardly via research of peer institutions and their respective Alumni Association efforts. One of our efforts this year, a product of such research, centers on the celebration of Northwestern 160th birthday, for which we recreated several forgotten university traditions (with a modern twist) on campus.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I have found that the best way to find inspiration for yourself is simply to look to the acts of others.  Leadership can often be something that is contagious. Whenever I see the courageous efforts of our American troops in the Middle East, or the selfless acts of volunteers in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, or the tireless passion of student leaders on a college campus, I am always filled with an immense amount of pride and more importantly, a profound desire to give back – as they have – through my own actions.

I really believe that the world is filled with incredible people. To improve ourselves and to become better leaders, all we need to do is look around and learn from one another.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

There is an incredible amount of talent within the Taiwanese American community, yet so much of it is still left to be revealed to the rest of the world. I hope the future of Taiwanese America is one of new leaders that step up and break through these barriers – together, with support from one another – in all walks of life in the U.S. such as, among others, entertainment, sports, business, academia, and especially in politics.


Michael Lin – Founder and Past President of Delta Sigma Pi – Rho Sigma Chapter

University of California – Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

In order to succeed as a leader one has to be passionate about their organization. Lead your future and be proud as a Taiwanese American.

Who are you?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American born in Monterey Park and raised in Diamond Bar, California. I am currently a third year Business Economics with an emphasis in Accounting major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My hobbies are playing basketball and DJing. My parents immigrated to the United States about thirty years ago to pursue their educational endeavors and career goals. Throughout the course of my life I was able to experience the network of connections my parents have made in becoming successful in America. Ultimately, this encouraged myself to also connect with the culture and learn about the heritage. I will be studying abroad at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan in the Spring of 2011 as an exchange student. I hope to eventually be able to read and write proficiently in Chinese.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Delta Sigma Pi is a professional fraternity organized to foster the study of business in universities; to encourage scholarship, social activity and the association of students for their mutual advancement by research and practice; to promote closer affiliation between the commercial world and students of commerce, and to further a higher standard of commercial ethics and culture and the civic and commercial welfare of the community.

Once entering UCSB I was a lost college student in search for a path to succeed in life. There were numerous ups and downs during my first two years but I learned from the errors I encountered. Therefore, I eventually thought about my goals and aspirations in wanting to succeed in life and helping others with the same goal. Something I noticed that our university did not have to offer was a business program. Business makes things happen and is vital to every part of our society. The reason why I started a chapter of Delta Sigma Pi at UCSB was to promote students to network with employers, faculty members, and most of all other UCSB students. Friendship could possibly lead to partnership. Delta Sigma Pi offers endless opportunities because of the large network across the nation. Our first large event which brought in over 500 guests all over Southern California was where we invited “Johnny Cupcakes – America’s #1 Young Entrepreneur of 2008 by Businessweek.” He presented about his venture and shared his ideas to students about succeeding in the clothing industry. We partnered with numerous companies and also with our UCSB Career Services. We have seen our brothers succeed personally, professional, and fraternally. As President, I also lead eight other Vice Presidents in expanding our Sigma Beta Epsilon colony in becoming the Rho Sigma Chapter at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My motivation in becoming a successful leader is from my father. I’ve watched him develop in becoming successful in life through managing his own practice in accounting and also founding the Sino-American Certified Public Accountants Association. He is well known in the Taiwanese and Chinese community as a renowned CPA. He is also the commissioner of Overseas Affairs for Taiwan in Los Angeles in which he was appointed by current Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou. Being a leader will allow other people to recognize your ability to lead an organization. In order to succeed as a leader one has to be passionate about their organization. Lead your future and be proud as a Taiwanese American.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Be proud of who you are. Represent and be heard!


Angela Hsu – Youth Camp Program Coordinator and Advocate for Animal Welfare

California State University, Long Beach, CA

If I can have a lasting effect on just 10 kids, they will go on to educate and inspire 10 more kids. Our older generation created the Taiwanese legacy here in America and it is up to the current generation to bring awareness to the growing Taiwanese American community.

Who are you?

I am Taiwanese, born in California, lived in New Zealand, and raised in China. Because of my background, I have always loved traveling and experiencing different cultures. Currently, I am a senior at California State University Long Beach, majoring in Business Marketing. As a proud Taiwanese American, I am keen to learn more about my heritage. In my opinion, the best way to learn is through a leadership role. I find myself being drawn to leadership positions all throughout my life. The Taiwanese communities in the United States and in China have always been very positive and supportive about youth initiatives. Because of this, we second generation Taiwanese Americans have an outlet to give back to the community and broadcast our culture. Working at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles (SPCALA) in my spare time, I am also passionate about volunteer work and animal welfare. When I am not sitting in a classroom or working on a new project, you can usually find me strolling down Main Street at Disneyland, or spending time with my shelter-rescue dog, Bowser, at the dog park.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The TACL Leadership Identity and Development camp (TACL-LID) is a project that engages teenagers and young adults in leadership activities. It prompts campers to reach out to their communities and learn more about their Taiwanese American identity. As the Program Coordinator this year, my job was to make sure that the workshops and activities were as educational and interactive as they were fun. LID Camp is also a great tool for networking. Not only do campers get to meet other students that share the same interests, but the counselors and staff members are also given the opportunity to come together with other leaders that share the same passion for change. For this year’s camp, we aimed high and shot for 100 campers. Thanks to the dedication of everyone on the team, the response was beyond what anyone could have imagined. Not only did we reach our goal, but we surpassed it by a significant number of applicants. Being a counselor from last year’s LID Camp, I tried to incorporate my experience and vision into LID Summer Camp 2010. One of my main goals was to make sure that all the counselors and staff felt like one big family. Although everyone had his or her own responsibilities, it was crucial for me to enforce the idea that we were a team. Seeing the huge turnout rate at the reunion and the ongoing desire for gatherings from the campers and staff really made the whole stressful experience worthwhile!

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

TACL-LID camp is an organization that prides itself in educating youths about the Taiwanese identity. In a broader sense, it also teaches participants the social and professional skills needed to succeed in their careers. The skills that we teach are not only applicable for Taiwanese Americans, but also for the greater community. My hope for the camp is for it to expand to a larger scale and continue to educate youths in a way that allows them to become proactive members in their schools, churches, or communities. If I can have a lasting effect on just 10 kids, they will go on to educate and inspire 10 more kids. Our older generation created the Taiwanese legacy here in America and it is up to the current generation to bring awareness to the growing Taiwanese American community.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I am currently working on a nonprofit project centralized in producing elevated pet beds for local animal shelters. My dream is to ultimately improve the living conditions of shelter animals. To find out more information about my organization, Eat.Sleep.Love, please visit eatsleeploveblog.wordpress.com. ALL donations and aid will be put towards animal welfare.


Annie Han – Freshman Rep of Wellesley’s Taiwanese Organization, Co-Founder of Simply Savant

Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Passion is what sparks inspiration and motivation to do better for the community.

Who are you?

I’m a freshman at Wellesley College, majoring in Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering at MIT (tentatively).  I’m a Taiwanese American who has a beautiful, loving relationship with science and mathematics. In high school, I was the co-president of Math Club and was the group leader of a research team that published a paper and presented at a energy conference in Japan. When I’m not being a nerd, I’m pretty active in several organizations on and off-campus. Two years ago, I co-founded the national chapter of a non-profit organization called Simply Savant, and served as the Director of Operations. I’m also one of two Freshman Reps of Wellesley’s Taiwanese Cultural Organization (TCO), and the Historian of Chinese Student Association (CSA). Other than that, I enjoy watching Taiwanese dramas, playing tennis, video editing, and watching the Disney Channel.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Two years ago, a group of my high school friends co-founded a nonprofit organization called Simply Savant. We wanted to promote academics for less privileged children who couldn’t acquire the resources to achieve academically or appreciate learning. Through educational programs, charity projects, and fundraising, we were able to provide children with the opportunities to learn and grow academically. One of our biggest projects included building over 22 libraries in facilities (Boys and Girls Clubs). As the co-founder and Director of Operations, I planned many events, kept our group on top of their tasks, and handled many of the logistics. Before going on to college, I organized, directed, and taught at a summer camp called Camp Savant.

At Wellesley, I am pretty committed to the Taiwanese organization. TCO seeks to inform the community about Taiwanese culture, and seeks to foster a greater community of active Taiwanese Americans.  Since Wellesley is a small school, we also welcome members from other backgrounds who are interested in learning about Taiwanese culture. I’m very happy to be one of two TCO freshman reps. We organize events such as a shaved ice night, a first-year pre-party, dessert study breaks, and Taiwanese-breakfast-for-dinner. We do this with the goal of serving as a liaison between the current members and new members, and getting new students to feel welcomed.

TCO was my first step in being active in the Taiwanese community. As I’m exposing myself more to Taiwanese culture and representing myself as a Taiwanese American leader, I hope to be more involved the next couple of years.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I was always the one to bandage things up when events weren’t going as planned, well-executed, or when disagreements would arise in organizations. I was always thinking three steps ahead, and it was the inner drive of mine to take initiative that brought me up as a leader in high school. I know that I don’t possess any particularly authoritatitve qualities. But I am practical, I am a listener, and most importantly, I am passionate. Passion is what sparks inspiration and motivation to do better for the community.

To future student leaders, some advice I’d like to give is to be passionate about what you are leading. Whether you lead seriously, optimistically, or practically doesn’t matter–what matters is leading passionately.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I hope that I will impact TCO in ways that will inspire 1st and 2nd-generations (and others) at Wellesley to confidently promote Taiwanese culture, Taiwanese/Taiwanese American identity, and political issues more actively on campus. I would like to see myself and TCO members getting involved with other organizations, such as ITASA and TACL. I would like TCO to be a bigger, more successful organization on campus, and it will be a place for members to feel like they are a part of a family. I hope that non-Taiwanese people who attend our events will want to continue to learn, appreciate, and understand Taiwanese culture.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My mom is from mainland China and my dad is from Taipei, Taiwan, so most of the culturally significant events that happened in my life were a combination of Chinese and Taiwanese cultures. Albert, my older brother, and Jason Tsai, my close friend, have been very involved with TACL; seeing how influential they were as Taiwanese American leaders and the difference they made in the community, I was motivated and curious to learn about my own background and  identity. And even though I am only “half” Taiwanese American, I am still a proud Taiwanese American.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I’d like to see a more informed, active Taiwanese American community–a community with a variety of leaders from the entertainment industry to the sciences. 加油!

Any additional information you would like to share?

I love chua bing, taro boba milk tea, and Wu Chun.

Favorite Taiwanese commercial (<3)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmmh9U_inVk

Links of organizations:
Simply Savant: http://simplysavant.weebly.com/
Wellesley TCO’s Tumblr: http://wellesleytco.tumblr.com/
TCO’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellesley-Taiwanese-Cultural-Organization/167721603245237


Andy Chou – Past President of UC Berkeley’s Taiwanese Student Association

UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

We hope that through our events students can become increasingly well connected socially and professionally with the Taiwanese American community…

Who are you?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American – a single child from Plano, Texas. I lived in Texas until I was 6 years old before I moved to Taipei, Taiwan for 6 years. While I was there I learned how to listen, speak, and write in Mandarin, skills which I still retain today. Since then I have been living in Southern California and I am currently a 3rd year at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Economics and minoring in Japanese. I plan to study abroad in Japan during fall 2011 and I hope to eventually become fluent in Japanese.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Currently, I am involved in UC Berkeley’s Taiwanese Student Association (TSA), East Asian Union, and ITASA West Coast Conference. I was the President (and now Senior Advisor) of TSA, which is a social student group on the UC Berkeley campus that promotes Taiwanese culture throughout campus and the surrounding communities and provides a platform for students to gather and enhance relationships.

During the past semester, TSA has extended beyond its usual reach by collaborating more with not only other Asian American groups on campus but also other Bay Area colleges’ Taiwanese American groups. We have also begun to organize academic events, such as Career Night, in which we invite many successful Taiwanese Americans to discuss with students and provide resources of future job opportunities. Our biggest event this semester was Karaoke Contest, which attracted more than 200 people. While allowing amazing singers compete to win the grand prize, the event also serves to promote Taiwanese pop music and pop culture to the audience, which was represented by a diverse group of Mandarin speaking students.

As President, I planned and lead the organization of over 13 events in a semester and provided our members the greatest amount of resources. We hope that through our events students can become increasingly well connected socially and professionally with the Taiwanese American community in the Bay Area. Most importantly, we wish that through our events and friendships, our members can feel like they are at home – Taiwan.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

As bad as stress may sound to you, I feel that giving myself an appropriate amount of stress really motivates me to roll out the best events. The sources of this stress may come from: a sense of urgency, all the risks in an event, and the mentality that you are responsible for any mistake and failure during the event. With that state of mind, I was pressed to make sure that all my officers get their work done and be responsible for their actions. Of course, you must have a passion for your student organization and its cause to enjoy your leadership experience.


Sylvia Chen – Social Chair of UC San Diego’s Taiwanese American Student Association

UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA

Knowing how much it hurts to be excluded, I want to prevent that from happening to other people.

Who are you?

My name is Sylvia and I am currently a sophomore at UCSD. I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan in the peaceful neighborhoods of Neihu. In the winter of 2002, I moved to a city in California called Diamond Bar where I finished my middle school and high school education. While I was in high school I joined our school’s hip hop team (DB Junkies) as well as our women’s show choir group (Diamondaires&Solitaire), and that is how I found my passion for dancing and singing. Additionally, I developed an interest in photography after high school and this is what eventually led me to my involvement in the Taiwanese American Students Association (TASA) at UCSD, as well as my current major, Visual Arts Media.  During my freshman year of college, I found a sense of belonging by discovering an amazing group of friends in TASA. Because of them, I went out to every TASA event and soon after, my enthusiasm for the club got me the Historian position. This year I’m the Social Chair of TASA and my passion for it definitely remains. Being in college is about figuring out what you love to do, and helping people out, socializing with people, and promoting Taiwanese awareness are definitely things I have discovered and developed much passion for.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Currently I am the Social Chair of TASA. TASA’s main purpose is to provide a sense of community for Taiwanese Americans, as well as those who are interested in the Taiwanese culture mainly at UCSD but also among the greater community.  We have an event every week to create chances for people to socialize as well as to introduce Taiwan and its culture to people in various ways.

Planning numerous events might sound like hard work and I’m not denying it, but having a good turn out at an event, seeing people having fun and building irreplaceable friendships, and learning more about the amazing country of Taiwan make up for all the work I’ve devoted to this club.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

When I first came to the United States, I encountered times where I was made fun of because of my poor English and faced other difficulties because I had a hard time adjusting to an entirely new environment. Knowing how much it hurts to be excluded, I want to prevent that from happening to other people.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

My vision for TASA is to discover all the amazingly talented Taiwanese people around campus. Coming to college, the only regret I had was not being able to dance and sing every day like I did when I was in high school.  I believe in order for hidden talents to show up, there has to be opportunities provided for those people to utilize those talents.  Slowly, TASA is starting to provide those chances for people to do what they love to do; this year the new thing we’re doing is executing dance workshops every two weeks, and as I have predicted, a lot of new people came out.  Hopefully in a few years, we will be able to provide many other opportunities for people to demonstrate and develop their talents and hobbies.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am EXTREMELY proud to be a first generation of Taiwanese heritage because of the amazing, friendly people and beautiful scenery of Taiwan.  And whenever I go back to Taiwan, I can never have enough of their food!!  That is also why I am so proud; Taiwanese people CAN COOK! Even though as of right now I am not that great of a cook, but I believe it’s in my blood and I will be able to master and serve great dishes like 蚵阿煎 (oyster omelette) and 糖葫蘆 (tomato candy?) one day.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

AWESOME.

Any additional information you would like to share?

As I mentioned earlier, I am an aspiring photographer who still has a lot to learn!  But it would be amazing if you guys could check out my work that I post on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvia20love) to give me some input or to admire them or to even just say hi to me!!

I absolutely LOVE making friends and chatting with people, so feel free to add me on Facebook! And if you attend UCSD, make sure to check out TASA!


Jenny Wang – Co-Vice-President of Rutgers’ TASA and a Student with a Dream

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

As a student leader, you have to be able to inspire and to motivate. You have to be able to get people excited on what you’re working on and what you want to achieve as a whole.

Who are you?

I am a junior at Rutgers University, located in New Jersey. Throughout high school and my time at Rutgers so far, I’ve been involved in a number of activities, ranging from fine arts to cultural awareness. At Rutgers University, I’m on the executive board of the Rutgers Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA). I was public relations chair and co-director of Nightmarket during my sophomore year at Rutgers. This 2010-‘11 school year, I am the co-vice president. Summer 2009, I attended the Pacific Asia Student Seminar at National Taiwan University as a group leader to discuss economics, politics, civil rights, history, culture, and human rights with 40 other participants from all over Asia. Summer 2010 in Washington DC, I was a meeting coordinator for the Formosa Foundation’s Ambassador Program, which is a US based nonprofit organization that advocates for the democracy, human rights, and the strengthening of US-Taiwan relations. So far, all of these experiences have made a huge impact on who I am right now. I have a genuine interest in US foreign policy towards Taiwan, and Taiwan in general. I enjoy eating, karaoke, and going on adventures.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

My own personal goal is to strengthen the Taiwanese American community and to impact individuals. In order to achieve my goal, I try to be as involved as possible in not only the Taiwanese American community, but also in the Taiwanese community. I would like to create awareness. Even if I have exposed a bit of Taiwan to just one person, I believe that it does make a difference. So why not expose it to more than just one person?

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

There are many factors fueling my inspiration for what I do. First and foremost, my parents have always been supportive – encouraging my siblings and me to go out, to explore and to learn. Because of their continuous support, I’ve been thankful and lucky to have gone on many adventures in Taiwan and saw with my own eyes what Taiwan has to offer.  Slowly but surely, my interest in Taiwan grew from interest, to love, to a passion, to something that I will forever fight for.

Keeping the previous leaders and all the hard work that they’ve put into what I’m working on now in mind motivates me. When I was a freshman and was just elected to be the public relations chair for my sophomore year, the newly elected TASA president told me, “Listen. To be a leader, you don’t tell people to build a boat. Tell them to get the nails, wood and cloth for the sail… and you don’t tell them where to put what or how to build the boat. Instead, a great leader tells his/her people about the wonders of the ocean to inspire them to build a boat.”

As a student leader, you have to be able to inspire and to motivate. You have to be able to get people excited on what you’re working on and what you want to achieve as a whole. At the same time, as a leader, you have to show your passion and make it something fun, or else the people will get bored.

Last but not least, my own desire for what I am personally trying to achieve keeps me inspired and motivated.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I spent a semester abroad in Seoul, South Korea. While I was there, I met someone from Taiwan. After becoming friends on Facebook, we noticed that I was friends with two of her high school classmates in Taiwan – one I met in Taiwan while I was attending the Pacific Asia Student Seminar, and the other one I met while I was in Washington DC for the Formosa Foundation’s Ambassador Program. This instance made me realize how small Taiwan’s community is. With that anecdote in mind, my vision is to slowly make the Taiwanese community more tightly knit. If we continue to work together and make connections within our Taiwanese American and Taiwanese community, we can really make a huge difference on a global level.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Throughout history to current day, there have been many individuals of Taiwanese heritage that have done and achieved great things but have not received the proper acknowledgment. We’ve gone through many ups and downs, and in the end, we always pull through. We, Taiwanese, have so much to be proud of.  Taiwan is an island with beautiful scenery, the best food, deep history, the friendliest people and so much more. I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. I am who I am, and I love it.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

In the future, I hope there is a stronger Taiwanese American identity, and a closer Taiwanese American community.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I helped design the mascot of Rutgers University’s Taiwanese American Student Association – the TASA Tofu. Check it out, it’s really cute. While you’re at it, visit http://www.rutgerstasa.org


Jessica Kung – Dancer, Foodie, & Program Chair for Annual Nightmarket Event

New York University, New York, NY

I see a very bright future for Taiwanese America in the sense that 2nd generation Taiwanese Americans like myself and many of my classmates haven’t even begun to truly show how unique and amazing Taiwanese culture really is…

Who are you?

I am an aspiring dancer/foodie currently living life in New York City and majoring in Nutrition at New York University. I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA and still miss the West Coast. I have been dancing my entire life but first started off my performing life as a rhythmic gymnast at age seven.  I completed in the Junior Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships at age twelve and placed third all around in my age division. During my gymnastics career, I was also fortunate enough to have trained at the Olympic Training center in Lake Placid, NY. After middle school, I found my new passion in life, dance, and went to an arts high school, School of the Arts, and majored in dance.  There, I was not only able to work with many amazing teachers and choreographers in the Bay Area, but was about to develop my own choreographic skills. As one of two seniors chosen, I choreographed a final solo and a class piece with ten of my fellow classmates which ended up winning me my school’s Choreographer’s Award, San Francisco’s Yvonne McClung Award for choreography, and the Jason Robins Dance Scholarship. When it was time to apply for college, I knew I still wanted to dance and was accepted to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for their conservatory dance program.  However after freshman year, I realized that I wanted more than just a dance career, and decided to pursue another passion of mine (food and cooking), and transferred to the nutrition department.  I currently dance more than ever, but am also learning about healthy living and I get to cook on a regular basis!

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Since my freshman year at NYU, I have been involved with my school’s Taiwanese club, Taiwanese American Student Society (TASS).  Particularly, I have been Program Chair two years in a row for the club’s largest event, our annual Nightmarket, which showcases Taiwan’s famous nightmarkets. My role as Program Chair is to gather performances and create a show that showcases the best of Taiwanese culture for the enjoyment of my fellow Taiwanese and non-Taiwanese classmates. As Program Chair, I am able to utilize my dance background and am given the chance to express not only my love of performing, but also my creative and innovative backstage side. My main goal for the show this year is not just to showcase the uniqueness and specialities of Taiwanese culture, but also to show how relatable they can be. We are planning to have a past and present concept where we will show traditional and modern aspects of Taiwan, further displaying that Taiwan is everchanging and innovative, yet still always the Taiwan we know and love.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My inspiration comes from the immense pride I have for my culture.  I feel lucky to be Taiwanese American because it has greatly contributed to and better enriched my understanding and perspective of people, ideas and the world. Growing up in an environment where I was exposed to two different cultures made me the confident, strong, and proud person I am today.  And specifically, for my role as Program Chair for NYU TASS’s annual Nightmarket, my dance background and previous experience with performing, stage management, choreography, and directing gives me the foundational knowledge and skills needed to direct a large scale show like the Nightmarket and convey important messages about Taiwanese culture.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

In actuality, NYU does not have a large Taiwanese student population. Therefore, TASS Nightmarket’s main audience is in fact non-Taiwanese students, representing various cultures from around the world.  As a result, our events tend to be very educational and expose the uniqueness of Taiwanese culture for people who are not familiar with it. As a Taiwanese person, I am truly passionate about my culture and am more than proud to show it off for its specialities. But I also believe that I am a more fulfilled and cultured person because I have both my American and Taiwanese cultures.  For me, they work together. Rather than showing how different and almost far fetched Taiwanese culture is, I want to showcase that yes, it is a unique but also relatable to people of all cultures for our basic love of delicious food, rich culture, entertainment and the amazing people.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am extremely proud to be Taiwanese simply because of of the amazing people, food, and culture that is Taiwan. Whenever I visit during the summer, I lose myself in the Taiwanese lifestyle, which includes amazing hot pot, bubble tea, nightmarkets, shopping, nightlife, convenience of everything, and most importantly, the extremely friendly and hospitable people who always make me feel welcomed.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I see a very bright future for Taiwanese America in the sense that 2nd generation Taiwanese Americans like myself and many of my classmates haven’t even begun to truly show how unique and amazing Taiwanese culture really is in this country and the world.  Because I have both American culture from being born and raised in San Francisco, CA and Taiwanese culture from my parents who immigrated from Taiwan in me, I saw the ironic beauty in how well they work together.  There are many differences between the two, yet somehow complement each other.  In a sense, I hope that all Taiwanese Americans and people who have more than one culture in them all realize how lucky they are to have these two rich cultures in them.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Here is the video to my senior solo I choreographed and performed at my high school’s School of the Arts 2009 Dance Concert.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1105353588122


Sophia Jih – Co-Executive Director of ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference at Princeton University

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

My dream is that we’ll be able to draw inspiration from each other and build on the work that we’ve been doing to make Taiwanese Americans a prominent group in the United States.

Who are you?

I am a junior at Princeton University in New Jersey but I grew up in Troy, Michigan. I’m majoring in biology but also taking coursework in public policy and law. I’m interested in the effects of disease on human development, and the best way to implement health aid programs. While both my younger sister and I were born in the United States, my dad is from Taipei and my mom is from Kaohsiung. I grew up attending Chinese school, having rice for dinner every day, and watching Huan Zhu Ge Ge on the TV. My hobbies are writing, messing with photos on Adobe Photoshop, eating food late at night, and finding new indie bands to listen to.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

This year, I have the honor of being one of the two executive directors for the ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference at Princeton University. The Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Student Association (ITASA) is a non-profit organization that provides avenues for young Taiwanese Americans to interact with each other and with their communities. Every year, there are three ITASA conferences on the east coast, Midwest, and west coasts of the United States. Last year, Princeton won the bid to bring the east coast conference to our school in January 2011, and we are so excited to make this conference amazing. As one of the executive directors, I oversee the logistics that is involved in bringing hundreds of students to Princeton for a weekend, as well as reaching out to the Taiwanese American community for workshops and speakers. I believe the annual ITASA conferences are one of the fundamental ways Taiwanese American college students can meet one another, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

This year’s ITASA conference will be the first in over a decade to be held at Princeton. After such a long time, I think it’s been hard to bring together the Taiwanese American community in the New Jersey area. My hope is that through the connections that we make in the surrounding area while we are planning and through the conference itself, the Princeton ITASA conference team can really make a difference in uniting students and community members to think about the Taiwanese American heritage.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I think what is the best, but sometimes most challenging, part of being a 2nd generation Taiwanese American is learning how to integrate the different cultures that you’ve been exposed to. Growing up in America, I’ve learned to appreciate what a different perspective the Taiwanese heritage gives me. I’ve also found that the times where I’ve been able to express who I am in the context of being Taiwanese American have been some of the best I’ve ever had.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

At the risk of sounding corny, my vision of the future is one where Taiwanese Americans have the confidence to follow the motto we chose for this year’s ITASA conference: taking it to the top. My dream is that we’ll be able to draw inspiration from each other and build on the work that we’ve been doing to make Taiwanese Americans a prominent group in the United States.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Keep up with updates for the ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference at Princeton University with Twitter, Facebook, or our website (we’re still revamping our website, but please contact me if you have any interest in supporting the conference!):

http://twitter.com/ITASA2011

http://www.facebook.com/pages/ITASA-2011-East-Coast-Conference-Taking-it-to-the-Top/122262954466141

http://eastcoast.itasa.org/


Josephine Ho – Community Outreach Chair of UCI’s Taiwanese American Organization and ITASA’s West Coast District Chair

University of California, Irvine, CA

I am a second generation Taiwanese American, but I love Taiwan just as much as any first generation Taiwanese would.

Who are you?

I am a sophomore at UC Irvine double majoring in English and Political Science. Born and raised in Torrance, CA, I am a second generation Taiwanese American who was brought up in a very Taiwanese household. Although my parents never really instilled the Taiwanese identity in me, they pushed me to never forget my native language and culture by speaking to me in Mandarin, teaching me the culture and traditions, and taking me to Taiwan every other summer vacation. I’m passionate about the food and traveling to Taiwan as often as I can afford to do so, and I enjoy speaking in Mandarin to my friends and watching Taiwanese dramas to continue to familiarize myself with the language. In my spare time, I love shopping, eating, watching movies, playing the piano, playing with my dog, going to the beach, trying new things, and hanging out with friends in general.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I can honestly say that joining the Taiwanese American Organization (TAO) at UCI and taking on an active role in it has been one of the highlights of my college career so far. Working together with others of the same interest and Taiwanese American background has allowed me to pursue my passions of spreading appreciation of my heritage, as well as providing a friendly environment where people of the same background (or who wish to learn about this culture) can interact and create new friendships while being exposed to Taiwan’s current events, history, and overall culture. In addition, I am happy to be a part of something that builds strong community among Taiwanese Americans. Through TAO, I have practiced and learned the importance of teamwork, organization, and responsibility. Besides patience and thoroughness, I have discovered that good communication among the team members produces an excellent product. Without cooperative teamwork, any club becomes disjointed. Without TAO, my college experience would be severely lacking, and I would not have this tight group of friends I can call family. This year, I am the Community Outreach Chair of TAO UCI, and TAO is where I truly feel that I have found my identity and friends for life.

In addition to TAO, I am also glad to be a part of ITASA National Board and a 2010 TACL Political Intern at Assemblymember Warren Furutani’s office. In TAO, I may only be able to make an impact on students at UCI, but involving myself with ITASA and TACL has and will allow me to reach out to a greater range of fellow students.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I love the idea of influencing peers in a positive way. Knowing that I stand for something and that I have the tools and knowledge to pass on to others makes me feel as if my life is worthwhile. By immersing myself into being an active part of the Taiwanese American community, I have met countless amazing people who stand as leaders in the community, whether it be former ITASA conference directors, or activists in the political world. Having these people as my role models allows me to reflect on myself and determine how I can be more of a positive influence and, in turn, be a role model for other people.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American, but I love Taiwan just as much as any first generation Taiwanese would. Most of my relatives still live in Taiwan, and every time I visit the country, they always make me feel at home (plus, knowing the language fluently doesn’t hurt!) I love everything about Taiwan – from the food, nightlife, and shopping to the squatting toilets (okay, maybe the squatting toilets are an exception). No matter what, I am proud of how the Taiwanese American community is such a tight-knit group and so strong in its sense of identity.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can’t. What you’ve got to do is turn around and say, “Watch me.”

One day, TAO UCI will be the biggest, most successful organization on UCI campus. One day, at least five Taiwanese talents in the entertainment industry will win Oscars in one award sitting. One day, a Taiwanese woman will be sitting in Congress. One day, a Taiwanese doctor will find the cure to AIDS. One day, Taiwanese Americans everywhere can confidently assert their identity without fear of sparking controversy. One day, the entire world will know the deliciousness of Taiwanese food. One of these days…

Any additional information you would like to share?

Check it:
www.taouci.com
www.facebook.com/taouci
www.itasa.org
www.jayeeaych.tumblr.com


Kathleen Chen -Senior Intern for TACL’s Journalism Internship Program

Alhambra High, Alhambra, CA

The goal is to show that as part of the younger generation, we’re not out of the loop when it comes to knowing about the Taiwanese American community.

Who are you?

My name’s Kathleen, and I’m a senior at Alhambra High School. As of right now, I’m struggling through college applications just like every other high school senior, but hopefully I won’t be procrastinating too much! I’ve been involved with the Taiwanese American community ever since my freshman year when my friend introduced me to the Taiwanese American Citizens League Journalism Internship Program (TACL JIP). Through the last few years of being in the internship, I have learned so much about the Taiwanese American community that I never knew before. I was able to meet many inspirational Taiwanese American leaders who have definitely changed some of my views in life.

Outside of the Taiwanese American community, I’m pretty involved with extracurricular activities at school – Las Moras Service Club, Badminton, Kidshare (we help out and write to a kid named Ayanda in Africa), Christmas Committee (we hold fundraisers and donate all the money to charity during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season), and Film Society.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Journalism Internship Program (JIP) basically speaks for itself. A group of high school students collaborate to create a newspage or youth forum explaining the Taiwanese American events that occur around the area; the youth forum is put into the Pacific Times newspaper and is published every month. The goal is to show that as part of the younger generation, we’re not out of the loop when it comes to knowing about the Taiwanese American community. We use the youth forum as a voice or lending hand to those who aren’t in touch with their Taiwanese heritage as other people are. I really hope that people do actually read the Pacific Times and flip to that one section that appears every month. It gives a sense of reassurance that teens really do know their stuff about the Taiwanese American community.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

From the start of my involvement in the Taiwanese American community until now, I think every single person I’ve met has been an inspiration to me. My JIP coordinators – Candice Hung, Emily Wu, and Hilda Lin – have graciously guided me through this journey in learning about the wonders of Taiwanese culture. Community leaders – HoChie Tsai, Erica Ling, and many others – have shaped my views of society in a different way. They have motivated me to make an impact on the younger generation on how the Taiwanese American community is so important.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I hope that Taiwanese Americans won’t be overlooked and being Taiwanese won’t be confused with being Chinese. I have high hopes that Taiwanese American media will go mainstream. And surely that Taiwan will be recognized for being Taiwan and not something else.


Justin Ku – Vice President of National Honor Society

West Bloomfield High School, West Bloomfield, MI

One of the few things that you know will never change is your heritage. For these reasons, it is important for me to embrace my Taiwanese heritage and be proud of it.

Who are you?

I am a student in my senior year at West Bloomfield High School. I am looking forward to college next year but I try to stay focused on the present.  I have two loving parents and a little brother. My dad came from Malaysia, but his dad came from China. My mom came from Taiwan, but her dad came from China. That makes me a second generation Taiwanese/Malaysian American with Chinese ancestry. I enjoy playing all sports, especially soccer. I am always listening to music. I listen to all types of music as long as it’s not country. I love to learn about other people and their distinct cultures and ethnicities. I am constantly changing and the things around me are constantly changing. I’m trying to keep up with the ever-changing society. I’m trying to figure out who I am too.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

National Honor Society at West Bloomfield High School is a club that admits students that are academically sound, active outside of school and are willing to help the community. As a part of National Honor Society, each student must maintain a high GPA and do 15 hours of community service. Our goal is to set up functions like fundraisers and community service opportunities to donate to charities and help our community.

As Vice President, my role is to work together with the President and the rest of the executive board to set up the functions and admit students that are qualified to be a part of NHS. Direction from the executive board is necessary for our club to run successfully. Part of my role is to make sure everything is run smoothly through good communication and leadership.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My inspiration and motivation as a student leader came from my experiences as a student at West Bloomfield High School and from my experiences at the Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF).

My own experiences have taught me that most people will not actively seek to help the community and need some sort of push and reason for serving the community. I wanted to be a part of the push to motivate my fellow students to help our community.

My experiences at Taiwanese American Foundation have taught me a lot throughout the years that I have attended the summer conference. I have been taught the skills necessary to make an impact on my community. I have learned about leadership, communication, identity, ethics & values and more important life skills. I felt motivated to apply the life skills that I learned from TAF.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a second generation Taiwanese/Malaysian American. Being of Taiwanese heritage has been very influential in my life because that is half of my background. My mom’s side of the family all live in Taiwan. Visiting Taiwan allows me to learn more about myself and my background. I visit Taiwan only once every few years but every time I do go back, I always feel at home.
Each person has his/her own unique background and learning about it is essential if you ever want to achieve self-understanding. One of the few things that you know will never change is your heritage. For these reasons, it is important for me to embrace my Taiwanese heritage and be proud of it.


Karen Hsu – Team Captain of Odyssey of the Mind

Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA

Each and every culture, heritage, and country deserves to be recognized in their own right as a defined existence and a precious part of history. Taiwan deserves this.

Who are you?

Adjectives that describe me: Quirky. I drink water from empty Prego tomato sauce jars, because it’s environmentally-friendly, it’s fun, and it works just fine. I am a Star Trekkie and an avid Lord of the Rings fan. I make killer brownies. Playing volleyball helps me meditate and de-stress. I also don’t mind speaking out for what I believe in. Creative. I enjoy expressing my thoughts in written words and in my music, finding unique approaches to tackling an obstacle, and designing outfits. Ambitious. My goals for life go something along the lines of creating a cure for arthritis, helping end the crisis in Darfur, writing a twi-potter-pirates novel, becoming the next Yo-Yo Hsu, swimming with dolphins, making the perfect peanut-butter-and-nutella sandwich, and learning to love every moment of my existence. Oh yes. World, be prepared.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

At the beginning, my team was just a handful of mismatched puzzle pieces thrown together. We hadn’t “known” one another beforehand, and barely knew each other. Then hour after hour of slaving away in a dusty garage, sharing stale almond cookies, painting backdrops, hot-gluing (too often were fingers burnt in the process), brainstorming, singing Disney songs, and learning from each other brought us together.

As I began to put more and more time into Odyssey of the Mind, I became consumed by it, focused, always thinking of a new way to improve our skit or costumes, planning meetings, deciding what was and wasn’t necessary. Without my noticing, I found something that sparked my interest and motivated a level of commitment from me that nothing ever had before. Odyssey of the Mind, and my team, grew on me; I was no longer just Karen, but Karen, the mini-coach. I cared about my team. I was proud, protective, and thrilled to be part of it.

As we wove the strands of our solution, each of us also became inexplicably intertwined into the tapestry of our group. Shaving off a piece here, mending a corner there – it wasn’t just an act of working on the props, but also on the people. Placed together, the edges of the puzzle pieces – our personalities and habits – began to rub against each other, bending, adjusting, and changing to fit one another; until, united, we gleamed as one completed puzzle and as one team.

So, yes, last year we placed first in the Regional Tournament, we were State Champions, we ranked eighth in World Finals, but what I will remember the most is how we grew as a team, and how I learned to organize and, more importantly, to lead when no others stand forth to do so.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

Start. Procrastination is a common reaction to feeling overwhelmed or fear of failure. Instead of taking on too much at once and overwhelming yourself, break things down and take one small action step at a time. Understand yourself. You have to know who you are and what you want before you can lead anyone to victory. Things to do when you’re upset. Turn up music you really love. Play it so loudly that it soaks in through your skin. Dance in your pajamas. Feel the pain lift. Learn about genocides that are happening right now, all around the globe. Be aware. Get involved. Know how, truly, lucky you are. Play volleyball. Let the bruises on your arms and hands wash away the pain of the bruise on your heart. Because life is like an overhand serve. It can be scary as heck, but, eventually, you have to look it straight in the face, believe you can take anything that comes your way, and say, “bring it on.” Believe in yourself, and the tough part is already half over. Write. Express your thoughts. Rant. Muse. Create. Let your feelings, no matter if they are ugly or beautiful, flow out. Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger. Life, with all its ups and downs, is defined by the chances you take.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Every culture has their own traditions – French people eat French foods, Native Americans sing Native American songs, and Indians wear their traditional Indian clothing. But culture is not limited to how you dress or what you eat or what holidays you celebrate; it also influences how you think and how you view the world and the people around you. The rules that you uphold, the ideals that you believe in – many are put in place simply because of what your culture supports. Where America tends to stress the importance of individuality and self-reliance, the Asian culture emphasizes honor in family and obedience. Where Americans believe in freedom of speech, we believe in the eloquence of silence. Where others believe in hosting elaborate dinner parties, we believe in sitting around a table with a few old friends, dining off of paper plates. Where others believe in doing their best, we believe in accomplishing more than our best. Where some may think it selfish to take more than five ketchup packets from the local Jack-in-the-Box, we see it as merely economical. You see the world through the eyes of your culture, and so your culture makes you who you are. Of course, there is no definite “right”, no distinctly “correct” culture or way of life, and no person who is able to determine which culture is more worthy than any other. This is solely because each and every culture, heritage, and country deserves to be recognized in their own right as a defined existence and a precious part of history. Taiwan deserves this. We Taiwanese are a separate people, no matter how small our numbers, and we ought to be documented as so. Just as how Americans would be outraged if they were recorded as British, we feel likewise – we are our own people, our own country, and we fought to be who we are today. There is no way that we will settle for just “Asian” when what we truly are, and will forever be, is “Taiwanese”.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Check out Odyssey of the Mind! http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/


Hillary Lin – President of Stanford Premedical Association & External Liaison of Taiwanese Cultural Society

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Who are you?

I was born in Taipei and I lived in Chia-Yi until I was five. I then lived in Stony Brook, NY (the land of not many Taiwanese people) until I came to Stanford (the land of very many Taiwanese people), and I still visit Taiwan often. I sincerely hope to bring others into the folds of Taiwanese culture because it is so rich and amazing. I am an aspiring physician, a senior at Stanford, and I love pearl milk tea. I grew up playing the violin and piano, and I would read as many as three novels a day (I was obsessed). I may sound like your average Taiwanese American, but I hope to prove that even the average Taiwanese American can be unique.

My road to the person I am today didn’t come without struggle. Not struggles against hardships (while there were some, I consider myself lucky) but rather against tradition. I never really liked being the average Taiwanese American, and wanted to break free of the seeming mediocrity. I denied wanting to be a doctor and sought the farthest possible career path (the best I could come up with was science research), but in the end, as you see, there was no running away from the draw of medicine.

Future career aside, I have plenty of interests that set me apart! My favorite artist is Jay Chou, and I have a small – very small – crazed obsession with K-pop. I spend hours each day… studying and working to tell the truth, but I place sleep near the top of my priority list (I get my seven hours a night, from 12-7 AM – the fact that I am up at 12:23 AM writing this I hope shows my love for Taiwan).

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I am President of the Stanford Premedical Assocation (SPA). SPA is a group of premedical students providing every single resource a premedical student could possibly want or need, and having a lot of contacts for other organizations in case we happen to miss something. We bring physicians to campus, students to physician’s homes (and pay for everyone’s dinner), residents away from the operating room (for panels and workshops), and pre-meds to the operating room (not as patients).

I am also the External Liaison for the Taiwanese Cultural Society (TCS). Through food, through panels, and through movies, we aim to spread our frontier past Stanford and even the Bay Area. Some of our recent events include having Will Tiao, the producer of Formosa Betrayed, come give a talk, as well as our annual Night Market that showcases all of Stanford’s Asian culture groups.

My extracurriculars reflect my interests broadly, and being active as a member and leader allows me to share these interests with others. Saying I am part of SPA or TCS gives me a way to show others who I am in a short summary. It helps also to keep my non-academic side alive in the face of problem sets and exams.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

So in the beginning, I decided to be the leader because I had a little bit of a control freak in me and I didn’t quite like how things were running in (enter name here) organization. I proceeded to plot my take-over of every club I belonged to. I got too busy in the middle of the execution to carry out the full plan, but I made some good progress.

But now that I have become a leader, I have discovered the benefits of allowing everyone involved take their own little portion of control. It seems that other people are control freaks as well, and simply cannot be motivated to do their jobs unless they have some autonomy. Plus, it makes work easier. So I recommend the delegation of work to reliable individuals in your group (key word is reliable – Stanford students are unbelievably unreliable around midterms, which is every week after the third week). On that note, schedule most events at the beginning of the quarter (or semester) unless you have a nice, regular exam schedule that you can plan around.

And have fun! I am advising myself as I write this, but extracurricular groups are a great way to burn off a few IQ points and stress wrinkles. Those late night boba runs I never participate in because I need to sleep by midnight are really wonderful for refueling. Even in a crowd of premeds, you find that commiseration invites not only complaints but also new buddies.

Finally, if you’re not a student leader yet – it is really worth all the work. In the end, you get this great sense of pride and ownership over a project or organization, and hopefully you’ve done a few people some real good. I highly recommend it.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I hope to see the future of Taiwanese America be the most awesome cultural community in the U.S.! I know that is very specific.

Really, I hope to see other Taiwanese Americans find their truth in life – true friends, true family, true culture, and even true (does this fit?) career. I know that when people think of “dream careers,” they like thinking of artistic professions. Actors, singers, dancers, and entertainers are great! But I know there are many out there who might be going through what I went through – thinking really far out of the box and taking a long time to figure out they actually do want to be doctors or engineers. And really, we need more doctors and engineers in this world, so you’re certainly not doing any harm going down that path if it’s your dream.

So yes, I’d like to see Taiwanese America as a massive group of physicians and engineers speckled with some artists here and there. Then, by adopting other people (because I hear the birth rate in Taiwan is the lowest in the world – not sure if Taiwanese Americans are doing much better), we can incorporate millions of others and become a superpower culture. I’m joking, but that would be very funny.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My favorite Taiwanese food is o7-a2 chian1 (I hope I spelled that right). It’s just not made the same way in the U.S., unfortunately.

My favorite drink is actually not strictly pearl milk tea (I secretly do not like the little boba balls) – it’s actually lemon honey green tea with ai2-yu2 jelly. In Taiwan I like the similar shaved ice with lemon juice and ai2-yu2. I can’t tell you if there’s a proper name for that, but it’s delicious.

Links to my organizations
Stanford Taiwanese Cultural Society: http://taiwanese.stanford.edu
Stanford Premedical Association: http://premed.stanford.edu
Stanford Immersion in Medicine Series: http://sims.stanford.edu
Pacific Free Clinic: http://pacific.stanford.edu


Aileen Huang – Regional Coordinator for Students for Barack Obama

UC San Diego, La Jolla, San Diego

What makes me proud is that the tension between my Taiwanese heritage and my American upbringing compels me to think for myself and find my own happiness…

Who are you?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American who has become the unexpected politically liberal product of a socially and fiscally conservative family. Everything about my life can be traced back to my relationship with my mother. I am as rational as my mother is irrational. I am as tolerant as my mother is intolerant. I am as skeptical as my mother is judgemental. I am as temperate as my mother is impulsive. And I am as doubtful as my mother is pious. As a Taiwanese American, my struggle is not only with the generation gap, but also with the East-West cultural gap.  My search is for a happy compromise between the Western conception of “the good life” and the Eastern-Asian conception of “the successful life”; between my civic and individual duty as an American, and my familial obligations as an Asian person.

I am approaching the end of my undergraduate chapter as a Philosophy major at UCSD, and I can safely say that I could not have had a more fulfilling few years of my life. And understanding why my college years have been so formative requires understanding how I was brought up. To know who I am is to know where I have been. My upbringing has not been so different from that of any other Taiwanese American in my generation, but it is the juxtaposition with the person I have become that makes my story interesting. I am strongly opposed to full assimilation into any culture and am adamant in my belief that preservation is necessary and progress is inevitable. What defines society at all points in time is the struggle between the two. And I am in love with the struggle.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

There were two parts to my involvement in the campaign to elect Barack Obama as president. The first was co-founding UCSD Students for Barack Obama and serving as Vice President and Outreach Coordinator (the chapter was no more than 10 people at the start). Our objective was to inform students at UCSD about the young black senator. This proved to be a formidable challenge, as UCSD has been known to be politically apathetic and socially unaware. We gained some momentum just as the school year, so I went back home and did some work with local campaign organizations. That summer, I scored an interview with the California leaders of Obama for America. I received the position of Regional Coordinator for San Diego/Inland Empire, which included about eight college chapters across southern California. I held weekly conference calls and continued working closely with the UCSD chapter, which a close friend of mine took over. We had students sign “pledge cards”, mobilized an average of 70 voters at every campus every week, and collected contact information to make sure voters came out for the primary and general election. At meetings we would not only brainstorm campaign strategies, but we would also share stories of how so many of us, who were never politically active, came to volunteer for the Obama campaign. We also organized “Drive for Change” events where students could do trips to Nevada to canvass and inform voters. The most gratifying part of my experience was finding and bringing together different people from all walks of life.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

Barack Obama circa 2004 in his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fMNIofUw2I ; watch the entire speech!). His sincere words and simple message served a unifying purpose that could resonate across all ages and creeds. All it takes is a good heart, a genuine concern, and an education. Leadership cannot be forced. Leadership is inspired. My advice to future students leader is to venture outside of your comfort zone, READ everything you can get your hands out, find something you are passionate about, and find someone who shares your passion. It’s all organization and logistics from there. But you can’t get there without passion.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

Our organization has since dissolved, but a number of students on each chapter’s leadership team went on to take leadership roles in College Democrats and CALPIRG, and ACLU. My hope is that student organizations will continue to inform students about how politics is directly tied into our daily lives and encourage them to find a reason, ANY reason, to become involved in the community.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My Taiwanese heritage and upbringing makes it so that my worldview is not so narrowly defined. Each of our brains is governed by a conceptual framework that develops well into our mid-20s, and this framework is to a large extent influenced by social and cultural factors. What makes me proud is that the tension between my Taiwanese heritage and my American upbringing compels me to think for myself and find my own happiness, one that is not mono-culturally defined. There are so many parts of Taiwanese culture that I have yet to explore.  There is an entire other dimension of my life that is slowly revealing itself to me.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Informed. No more willful ignorance and political resignation.  We have a moral obligation to do our part. My mother always told me, 這世界是殘酷得, 你該勇敢一點, 聰明一點.  And part of having courage (勇氣) is standing up for what’s right, even in the face of fear. We have to contribute to society, earn our respect, and demand the best of each other. Taiwanese America can help paint a better image of Asian America, one that is not a racially triangulated.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My responses to the previous questions have probably given the impression of a solemn, cynical, and highly opinionated Aileen Huang, which is somewhat accurate, but a 10-minute conversation with me would have anyone thinking otherwise. If you are curious about what occupies most of my working mind, these might help:

http://twitter.com/aileen_dover
http://aileensadventures.tumblr.com/
http://aileensadventures.wordpress.com/

Cheers to social media!


Esther Hou – Vice-President External of UIUC’s Taiwanese American Students Club

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL

I hope that this organization continues its long legacy of producing leaders who persevere to understand the Taiwanese and Taiwanese American identity.

Who are you?

I am a senior in broadcast journalism at the U of I. I was bitten by the entertainment bug my freshman year in college and decided I wanted to be a singer. After a short stint in Taiwan and two songs released on kkbox, I believe I have a much more realistic view of what I can and cannot do as a musician.

I currently intern at WICD ABC Newschannel 15, Illini Productions, and Palestra.net/UWire. In a strange twist of fate, two of the three places I work at deal with sports. I knew nothing about sports until I began the jobs. Now, I’m one of those crazy people who scream at the T.V., thinking that it will actually change the outcome of the game.

I hope that in the future, I will have spare time to do some music gigs while working as a journalist. But for the time being, I am relieved that – as much as I adore her – I will not be like Robin from “How I Met Your Mother.” You know, with that blackmail-worthy music video floating around.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Taiwanese American Students Club at the U of I is a vibrant group that strives to build a family-like community that understands Taiwanese culture and appreciates Taiwanese American and Asian American identity. TASC gives students opportunities to learn about the needs and problems of the APA community while molding leaders out of these students to address those concerns.

As VP-External, I serve as the external liaison for the organization and maintain active relations with the APA community. I also oversee the Cultural Advocacy chairs.

More importantly, my position as VP-External allows me to witness all the blood, sweat and tears the board members put in to running TASC. I see their desire to make the events enjoyable for participants. I see their creativity come alive with each new idea to help better this organization. I see the pride they have in their identity and their eagerness to share that pride.

My experience with other student organizations has shown me that TASC is exemplary in its ability to produce fun and informative events, handle internal programming and instill passion in its members.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

TASC board is where I draw my inspiration and motivation to be a student leader. It’s incredible how one person can make such an impact in the board itself – to imagine that one person’s impact in the community! I am blessed to be able to participate in TASC and share what abilities I have in making this organization the best it can be.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I hope to see TASC not just flourish individually, but alongside of the rest of the APA community. I hope that this organization continues its long legacy of producing leaders who persevere to understand the Taiwanese and Taiwanese American identity.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My blog! mootastrophe.wordpress.com


Alyce Chu – President of the Houston Taiwanese Youth Society and Vice President of the Bellaire International Student Association

Bellaire High School, Houston, TX

As we grow up together, our pride as Taiwanese Americans grows together too. We support each other not only as club members, but also as close friends.

Who are you?

My name is Alyce Chu and I’m a second generation Taiwanese American from Houston, Texas. I am currently a senior at Bellaire High School. In my spare time, I like to relax and just listen to music, draw, read a good book, or hang out with my friends. I also love to sing; sometimes my friends and I make covers of songs for fun. I have an awesome family network here in Houston as well as the greatest group of friends who have helped to shape me who I am today. I am the 2009-2010 president of the Houston Taiwanese Youth Society (TYS) and the current the vice president of Bellaire High School’s Bellaire International Student Association (BISA). I love both clubs dearly, and have put much effort and time into both over the years; BISA for the past three years and going on the fourth, and TYS for the past seven years, going on the eighth.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Outside of school, I first volunteered with TYS sometime in elementary school because of my cousin. But by middle school, I became a passionate member of the organization, diligently going to every meeting and event. By eighth grade, I nabbed my first officer’s position, and by junior year I became president.

The objective of TYS is to promote community and culture, and to also serve as a network for local Taiwanese Americans. We volunteer in the Taiwanese community, host events for the children in the Taiwanese community, attend Taiwanese cultural events, and also hold a few social gatherings throughout the year for our organization to just have fun, including Rockets games and a Schlitterbahn Galveston trip. Our organization is really small, no more than twenty members, but because of this, we’re a close group. In fact, most of us have known each other for most of our lives! As we grow up together, our pride as Taiwanese Americans grows together too. We support each other not only as club members, but also as close friends. As we share club duties and happy memories, the bonds we share with each other through TYS grow strong, as does our pride for our Taiwanese heritage.

BISA’s mission is to help promote cultural diversity. Our largest project is the school’s international festival, where we coordinate around fifteen clubs for the event. I had originally joined BISA my freshman year on a whim. I soon discovered, though, that the club was a tightly knit community of friends, making the club a really pleasant organization to be a part of. And so I stuck with the club, gradually helping out more and more as the years passed by, culminating in my vice presidency of BISA, working side by side with my two friends, this year’s co-presidents.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I find my inspiration and motivation in the joy and passion I feel, and others feel, for the cause. If I don’t feel anything from myself or others for the cause or club, I can’t put my heart and soul into the work. The 2009-2010 year for TYS was regarded by many adults in our Taiwanese community as the greatest year TYS ever had, giving me all the credit, as president of TYS at the time. But the true reason for the successful year was that the people in our organization fed off of each other’s enthusiasm; I merely helped direct it into productive work. Though I have a great passion for our Taiwanese heritage and TYS, my passion alone couldn’t have carried TYS through the year; it was only with the others’ enthusiasm that we pulled through and ended the year well.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage for a huge number of reasons, including our unique culture, great food, and extremely successful music and entertainment industry. Most importantly, though, I’m proud of the way we are raised to respect people, especially those close to us. The values instilled within us because of our Taiwanese upbringing is also unique and wonderful – be humble, kind, selfless, honest, and so on. Too few people today practice such values, taking them to be elements of weakness. But such values are signs of strength, the strength to not have to assert oneself in such an arrogant way just to feel confident, the strength to rely on one’s own skills and accept the limits of one’s capabilities. It’s these values and our upbringing that makes me proud to be of Taiwanese heritage.


Vincent Wang – External Vice President of UC Berkeley’s TASA

UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Though at times, through the process, I may talk about how busy life is, the truth is, I like it. I enjoy having to worry about the Dumpling Night in four days, or how to raise enough money for a cross-strait symposium in the Spring.

Who are you?

I am a 1.5 Generation Taiwanese-Chinese American. I was born in Taiwan and moved here to the states with my parents when I was 8. I love reading the news and just being aware of the international community, something that our country and the people within have constantly put off. My passion lies in connecting people on a personal basis and to look beyond stereotypes and ideas our society has instilled in us.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I am currently involved with Berkeley Taiwanese American Students Association (TASA), Strait Talk Berkeley, ITASA West Coast Conference, East Asian Union, and Delta Phi Epsilon. As the External VP for Berkeley TASA, I (along with my cabinet!) have been trying to increase our ties with other campus student groups such as CSA, TSA, HKSA, and other groups. In the process of expanding and growing in Berkeley, we hope to present more of what and who we are as Taiwanese Americans. Strait Talk Berkeley strives to bridge the bounds of the people of Taiwan, China, and the United States. Its emphatic approach to conflict resolution, through the help of the Interactive Conflict Resolution, has inspired me and hundreds of delegates and organizers. While remembering our past and present, we must focus on the future towards a more peaceful and dynamic relations across the Taiwan Strait.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I’m not going to lie, I’m a workaholic. To me, school work is minute compared to the things I have to do for various organizations and clubs. Without something to organize or plan, I feel listless and bored. Though at times, through the process, I may talk about how busy life is, the truth is, I like it. I enjoy having to worry about the Dumpling Night in four days, or how to raise enough money for a cross-strait symposium in the Spring. This constant sense of pressure drives both my extracurriculars and academics. Berkeley and the people of Berkeley have inspired me greatly. Just seeing other students, both within and outside the Taiwanese American community, drive me and my work. I strive to be as good as those before me, and perhaps even going beyond them. My cabinet, execs, and other team members inspire me to do better and to do more. What I do now has totally shaped my views for tomorrow. My activities are all for my own passion and interests, and thus, non-profits are the way to go!

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

For all my organizations, I want to bridge different people of different societies and draw them closer to each other. Often times, we have stereotypes of different people groups or individuals, but I wish to break down these pre-constructed ideas and encourage individuals to know each other on a personal basis. Our past, and the pasts of our ancestors indeed shape who we are today… however, we are the ones who shape the identity and beliefs of our present generation. In a more globalized world, not only economically and politically, but socially as well, we come into contact with people from the four corners of the globe. The media today, along with campaign ads, tell us to think one way. However, we must be able to discern the truth and the lies, and find for ourselves the humanity within each individual and the collective potential for a better tomorrow.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I see myself as 1.5 generation. I adopt both the culture of Taiwan and the culture of the United States. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents fled China after Chiang Kai-shek lost the Chinese Civil War. Though my maternal grandparents already have business in Taipei, their ultimate emigration was due to the War. In Taiwan, they found solace and it was in that society they raised their children, my parents. When we look beyond the giants of different eras, we are able to see the pains and suffering of the common people, in any area of the world. I am proud of my grandparents and their struggle with the tides of time. Uprooted from their society and hometown, and ripped apart from their family for decades, they managed to become who they were and raised my parents to become who they are in the process. I am also proud of my parents who witnessed the rise of Taiwan in economic strength during the post-WWII era. For me, I welcome my Chinese cultural background, Taiwanese national background (I am still a citizen of ROC, Taiwan), and my American development.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I hope to see a more cohesive, tolerant, and vibrant Taiwanese America. It must be known that there are pockets of Taiwanese America that often do not speak up, by they do exist. In any society, we will find people with different opinions and ideas. Sometimes their ideals may clash with our own. However, as American citizens who highly value freedom, democracy, and liberal rights, they must be given the opportunity and stage to voice their own thoughts and mind. We must be aware of these realities, for ignorance does not bring bliss, but chaos.

Any additional information you would like to share?

ITASA West Coast Conference is in UC Berkeley this year! As Fundraising Chair, I implore everyone to contribute toward our conference. Contact me at [email protected] for more info! Additionally, Strait Talk Berkeley will be seeking applicants for Taiwan delegates and US delegates very soon! So be on the lookout at straittalk.org!


Annie Tung – All-around APA Student Leader

U Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

I basically left my heart in the rural countryside of Central Taiwan where my great-grandmother acquired her sun-kissed wrinkles and her proud gray hairs.

Who are you?

I am Annie Tung: an only child who is self-guided; a seasonal vagabond without means; an autodidact in liberal arts; a hypocrite of social media; a believer in retail therapy; a fanatic of British accents; and occasionally, a womyn who strives. I was born in Taichung, Taiwan but consider myself a Southern California native. Some of my life goals include: hiking up Half Dome, discovering the world’s best gelato flavors, and learning how to speak fluent Taiwanese.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

On campus, I am affiliated with the Asian American Association, the Asian Pacific American Coalition, the Asian Pacific Islander Issues Conference, the International Justice Mission, and the ITASA West Coast Conference for 2011. While my primary focus for the present year is the latter three, I continue to serve in various capacities for these student organizations. Specifically, my roles are Finance Chair, Outreach Director, and Housing & Registration Chair, but I see myself more simply as a student leader working within and between groups and individuals in the APA community. In broad terms, the organizations I am involved with all aim to engage community members on their own identity development and raise awareness for community causes–but they pursue these ideas in different ways and thereby diffuse distinct impact. In a nutshell, I am able to reach out to APA students on campus and across the Bay Area just by being a proactive student!

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

Essentially, I am motivated to blaze my own trail and benefit society in a qualitative way. I enjoy intellectual discussions that engender a sense of obligation within me to help the world become a better place, and I frequently dialogue with those who are in the process of becoming the next movers and shakers of this planet. I am not afraid to take risks, ask challenging questions, and be honest with the people around me. More importantly, I am inspired to lead because I stand on the shoulders of pioneers who have sought after the well-being I take comfort in today. While I am optimistic about the future, I am also fairly pragmatic about the present – yet there is never any waking moment when I feel indifferent.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

My vision is fundamentally based on creating communities and building coalitions that are healthy, dynamic, and open to new ideas. I also strive to construct safe spaces where people can expressively learn from similar and dissimilar peers from different backgrounds and walks of life. Naturally, an extension of this notion is the development of proactive, community-oriented leaders who understand how to effectively listen, empower, and guide those around them. Society at large lacks these progressive personalities, but they are slowly entering the broader community one individual at a time.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I identify as 1st generation Taiwanese American, although I immigrated before I was one years old. I basically left my heart in the rural countryside of Central Taiwan where my great-grandmother acquired her sun-kissed wrinkles and her proud gray hairs. I feel proud to say I am her kin because I have internalized many of her struggles and triumphs as my own. Above all, I believe that it is important to preserve both historic and personal meaning of my family’s story, which is deeply immersed in Taiwanese heritage.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

The future of Taiwanese America will uphold the Taiwanese spirit, the very essence that makes Taiwan special, which is more than just people, food, and places. It is a vivid experience, and a timeless energy that emanates from passionate hearts, which desire to see the world become a better place. I sincerely believe that it is this enthusiasm that will attract people to the little island with big values and a meaningful voice.

Any additional information you would like to share?

If you’re on the West Coast, come check out ITASA at Cal in spring 2011! You can find more information at http://itasa.org.


Stephanie Tang – President of Northwestern’s Residential College Board

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

I hope that in the future, Taiwanese Americans will be viewed as a united and influential group that has a unique voice that deserves to be heard.

Who are you?

I am currently a junior at Northwestern University majoring in psychology and legal studies with a minor in international studies. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois, and love exploring the city by getting off at random stops on the L and seeing what I find. Outside of the Residential College Board, I am treasurer for the Model United Nations club and the Undergraduate Psychology Association, historian for the Chi Omega sorority, and I conduct cognitive psychology research here at Northwestern. But the thing I look forward to the most is participating in Northwestern’s annual Dance Marathon where we raise money for charity and then dance for thirty hours straight!

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Residential College Board (RCB) is an umbrella organization that hosts events for all the students living in residential colleges at Northwestern. There are eleven residential colleges on Northwestern’s campus, all aimed at fostering communities through providing social, academic, and philanthropic events.  I lived in the International Studies Residential College my freshman year and was president my sophomore year. I immediately felt drawn into a community where I felt I could be myself and I always looked forward to events like international movie nights and dorm outings to do things like play paintball or eat all-you-can-eat sushi.

As president of RCB, I want to help oversee and hold events that bring these smaller dorm communities together and promote unity within the residential college system. These events vary from the conventional (such as formals and food outings) to the unexpected (such as human foosball and quidditch). At a school where there are over eight thousand students, it is easy to start feeling overwhelmed. I hope that RCB can help students (especially freshmen) feel as if they are part of a supportive community at Northwestern.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My experience at the summer camp, Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF), helped me shape who I am as both a person and a leader. Back in 2001 when I first attended the camp, I was shy to the point where my mom would always compare me to the caboose of a train. But through providing me with a caring and close community, the camp taught me how to have confidence in what I believed in and let my opinions be heard.

The confidence I gained from going to TAF pushed me to take two leadership roles in Taiwan in the summers of 2007 and 2008. In 2007, I was an English teacher in Taitung, Taiwan, as part of the Assisting Individuals with Disadvantages program.  Being part of the program really helped me develop my communication skills and taught me that as a leader, you can expect to learn a lot of things from the people you are leading. In 2008, I interned at Far Eastern International Bank in Taipei, Taiwan.  One of my jobs while working there was to help coordinate a summer program for college students.  Being part of that process developed my belief that in addition to looking at the broad scope of an event, you also have to concentrate on the smaller details to make sure little things do not fall through the cracks.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I hope that in the future, Taiwanese Americans will be viewed as a united and influential group that has a unique voice that deserves to be heard.  In my vision, there will be Taiwanese American leaders in every major field of study and they will inspire future generations to continue being proud of their heritage.


Kelly Shih – Co-Programming Chair for Maryland’s Taiwanese American Students Association

University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Taiwan, to me, represents underdog strength, dynamic culture, culinary brilliance, urban excitement, rural austerity, and loving family. I love it, and there’s no where else I’d rather represent.

Who are you?

I am Kelly Shih, a sophomore majoring in Government & Politics and International Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am a proud second generation Taiwanese American. My mom and dad are a purchasing manager and computer engineer, respectively, and obsessive gardeners, collectively. My older sister and dad both attended Maryland also, so we are a proud Terp family! I love eating, singing, sharks, airplanes, and Snyder’s Honey Mustard and Onion pretzels.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

As Co-Programming Chair for the Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) at Maryland, I plan and execute the majority of events for our organization. TASA seeks to bring together the Taiwanese American community at our school, and well-planned events really showcase TASA’s purpose to the community. Events can be educational, social, or charity-related, but each one requires weeks or months of planning to be successful and memorable.

I am also on the Traditions and Programming Committee for our Student Government Association (SGA). Our committee takes care of event planning as well, but for the entire student body. These events include Crabfest, Homecoming, Haunted House, Spring Barbecue and more. The committee also seeks to perpetuate decades or centuries-old traditions at the University of Maryland. We also give presentations to freshman classes about university traditions to ensure that they carry on.

This summer I was a Political Intern at Senator Boxer’s office for the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) and have taught English to kids in the Taiwanese countryside through the A.I.D. Program.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My inspiration to be a student leader comes from wanting to work with people and wanting my opinion not just to be heard, but implemented. The most direct way to affect the change you want, whether it be in national politics or your high school dance committee, is to be in a decision-making or decision-affecting position. I was involved in and assumed leadership roles in everything in high school, from class council to tennis to the school musical, because there was a certain way I wanted things to run, and the only way to ensure that is to take action. I also hate listening to people complain about things they could change if they made an effort. Be proactive, be efficient, and have fun doing it!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I took a plane for the first time when I was nine months old to go back to Taiwan. My parents, who immigrated here in the mid-80’s for my dad’s graduate degree, made such an effort to take my sister and I back as often as possible and to make sure we loved it. I have to credit my parents with instilling such a sense of comfort with Taiwan in us. Because when you’re little, you don’t care about politics or pride, you care about how much you fun something is. So my sister and I loved everything about it – my huge family, the karaoke, night markets, my grandparent’s rice paddy, mopeds, papaya milk, constant games of Big 2. Then, as we got older, we began to understand the pride. The pride of being from a small but resilient and determined nation. Of being in the unique situation of having to explain your country of origin to others, to have a 30-second political synopsis prepared. Of appreciating small victories – a pitcher on the Yankees, a director winning an Oscar – to put our heritage on the American radar. Taiwan, to me, represents underdog strength, dynamic culture, culinary brilliance, urban excitement, rural austerity, and loving family. I love it, and there’s no where else I’d rather represent.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

It looks a little like Glee – where we will break stereotypes and assume more visible roles. And be dancing and singing while doing it! Well, at least I’ll be.


Patty Liu – Director for ITASA West Coast Conference and Past President of UC Berkeley’s TASA

UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

I wish to continue making a difference in my local community and get people to care more about the Taiwanese American identity.

Who are you?

I was born in Taiwan and grew up in Cupertino, CA. I am currently a senior at UC Berkeley. Aside from studying Economics, I dedicate all my remaining free time to the Taiwanese American Student Association and volunteering. I am spontaneous and love trying out new things, ranging from food to extreme sports. One word that never fails to catch my attention is the word “new.” And my personality prompts me to try many new things not only in life, but also as a person and as a leader.

I have been involved in UC Berkeley’s Taiwanese American Student Association for the past seven semesters. I started out as the cultural committee chair and was the president last year. Currently, I am the senior advisor and am super excited for what the new generation of TASA will bring to the community. My next big project is my role as the Director for the 2011 Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) West Coast Conference where I wish to continue making a difference in my local community and get people to care more about the Taiwanese American identity.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The first club I sought out when I arrived at the UC Berkeley campus was the Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA). My first impression was different from what I had expected. Even though everyone in the organization was amazing, I knew TASA was not at its full potential. TASA strives to promote unity and cooperation among Taiwanese Americans in the community by holding events that bring together people of all backgrounds and ideals united by a common cultural interest. However, this goal would be more easily achievable if more Taiwanese Americans were to know about us and join us in accomplishing this goal. Since that semester, I took on leadership roles that were available to me and learned as much as I could from the mentors around me. There are many amazing Taiwanese American leaders based in Berkeley, such as Ho Chie Tsai and Chris Chang, and they helped TASA become what it is today. In my junior year, I became the president and challenged my team to tasks that were never accomplished before. In one semester, we hosted over thirteen events, which included hosting a Charity Concert with Wong Fu from Taiwan for Morakot Typhoon, a Chinese Lunar New Year Banquet held jointly with Academy of Art at SF, and a Career Panel of Taiwanese American Professionals in the Bay Area to provide guidance to Taiwanese American students. None of this would have been possible without my amazing team and incredible mentors. With the resources available in Berkeley and a new generation of officers, I am confident that TASA will continue to thrive.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I believe passion is the most fundamental aspect of a leader. With all the responsibilities that a student juggles, without passion, it is hard to motivate yourself and to an even lesser extent, inspire others.


Derek Suen – Past President of Northwestern’s Taiwanese American Students Club and ITASA National Director of Public Relations

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

I’ve come to realize that how I was brought up was the sole product of my parents’ Taiwanese heritage and couldn’t appreciate more the opportunities and experiences that I have had that have shaped my life.

Who are you?

I am a Taiwanese American entering my junior year at Northwestern University, just trying to make the most out of the quoted “best years of my life,” through singing, dancing, skiing and snowboarding, and eating all the great food that I can get my hands on. I was born in Ohio and have moved around to various places across the United States, but mainly grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where I lived for almost 12 years. I grew up with very few Asians, let alone Taiwanese, friends for most of my life, and have always appreciated the company of an extremely diverse community. However, the summer before my freshman year of college, I went back to Taiwan as part of the Assisting Individuals with Disabilities (teaching English to underprivileged children in Taiwan) program with hundreds of other Taiwanese Americans across the nation. That summer changed my entire perspective of my own heritage as well as the culture that surrounded me for two months. It was there that I found myself accompanied by other Taiwanese Americans for the first time, realizing how much we had in common and how similar our upbringing was, a theme that was never common among my other friends back home. It was in that summer that I was thrust into the busy streets of Taiwan left to explore the country that had only briefly passed through my life every couple of years as a child. Coming back, I realized how much I wanted to stay connected to my roots and how important it was to truly understand the depth of the history of the culture my family comes from. From then on, I looked for ways to get involved with the greater Taiwanese community wherever I was and have never regretted the decision to since.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Taiwanese American Students Club (TASC) at Northwestern strives to promote Taiwanese culture through events and activities to the greater Northwestern community. Throughout the year we throw events, from “Taiwan Night Market” and “Karaoke Night” to our annual Chinese New Year Celebration show “Celebrasia,” to showcase aspects of Taiwanese culture that most Northwestern students simply have no idea about. We also bring in speakers during the winter and spring to perform or talk about their experiences as Taiwanese Americans in their fields. During my year as President, I focused on finding ways to encourage greater attendance at our events by students who typically would never find themselves talking about Taiwanese foods or listening to Taiwanese artists. I wanted to create a venue that was both fun and social without losing a real sense of culture. This upcoming year our group is striving to be more educational than it has been in the past and to really enlighten students about how important Taiwan is right now, not only to Taiwanese people, but to the world.

As the Public Relations director on ITASA National Board, my role is to increase the transparency of our resources and events, established to inspire the greater Taiwanese American community across the nation, through social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, and quarterly newsletters. My goal as director this year is to better connect not just local university groups to ITASA national, but to build connections between universities themselves across the states. Meeting and interacting with other Taiwanese Americans from other schools has always been an incredibly worthwhile and enjoyable experience for me and I want others to have the opportunity to do the same, especially through venues such as our regional conferences every year.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My greatest motivation and inspiration comes from my friends, my peers, and those who I get to work with day-to-day on projects and events that are important to all of us. Just hanging out with friends and meeting new people are my favorite two things to do, so combine that with a passionate interest and you’ve got gold. It’s incredibly humbling to see people working so hard to succeed and being just as committed as you are in getting things accomplished (though admittedly, hardly ever is your entire team going to be this way). And also, knowing that the finished product will be worth it all is enough to get me by even the most stressful and discouraging moments of student leading. I strongly believe that you need to experience the worst to have the best. The more hard work and stress that you put into something, the higher the payload of happiness upon completion.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

In terms of our TASC at Northwestern, I would like to see there come a point where, due to the events we’ve put on on campus, fewer and fewer people ask “Why is there both a Chinese student Association and a Taiwanese one?” and “Oh, you’re Taiwanese? Isn’t that the same thing as Chinese?” These are of course common questions experienced by most Taiwanese Americans, but to see their usage decrease would be a huge achievement. I would also like our group to reach out and connect to other Taiwanese communities within Chicago and eventually to the greater Midwest region. There are so many groups within this one city that hardly ever interact with each other, and it’s honestly such a shame. The ITASA Midwest conference comes by once a year, but I would love to see the Midwestern Taiwanese community come together more often than that even for the purpose of just being able seeing each other.

I also want all Taiwanese Americans, starting with our own campus, to actually know and understand the history and current events of Taiwan, things that a surprisingly few number of students actually know about.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I have to say that for most of my life, being Taiwanese never seemed that special to me. However, in recent years I’ve come to realize that how I was brought up was the sole product of my parents’ Taiwanese heritage and couldn’t appreciate more the opportunities and experiences that I have had that have shaped my life. Beyond the scope of my personal life, it’s still astounding to see how such a tiny country (dwarfed by the giant Lake Michigan next to my school) has overcome so many obstacles to become the powerhouse of a country that it is now. While there lies an obvious amount of antagonism confronting the country now, it’s reassuring to know of the amount of strength within the people that have come from Taiwan that will continue to fight for its cause. Also, there is no question of doubt in my mind that Taiwanese food is the best in the world and I would never prefer to eat anything else.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I would love to see Taiwanese Americans finding success in any field they wish to pursue, from politics and business to mainstream media. I hope for Taiwanese Americans to be aware of their heritage and when confronted with the question “Why is Taiwan important?” to have a lot of their own words to say. And in the end, I want Taiwanese Americans to be successful because of who they are and the successes they achieve, for it not to be surprising to see Taiwanese Americans in mainstream media, and for it to no longer be worth noting that they are “Taiwanese Americans who succeeded,” but simply people who have done great things.

Any additional information you would like to share?

TASC at Northwestern: http://groups.northwestern.edu/tasc/

ITASA: http://itasa.org/wp/

Also, I REALLY like Taiwanese popcorn chicken. Almost to the point of addiction.


Joy Tsai – Public Relations Co-chair of UC Irvine’s Taiwanese American Organization

UC Irvine, Irvine, CA

Every time I learn something about Taiwan, my pride and passion for Taiwan is renewed and strengthened. Taiwan may be small, but the tight-knit and strong community makes up for it!

Who are you?

I am a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies at the University of California, Irvine. As a second generation Taiwanese American, I was born and raised in southern California despite the fact that my family moved around a lot. My parents are both Taiwanese, and I have always been interested in Taiwanese culture since I was little, even if I didn’t know a lot about it. I love Taiwanese culture and food, and continue to be fascinated when I learn more about Taiwan. I practice different types of art, such as drawing, making jewelry, sewing, web and graphic designing, because I believe that they are my source of expression. Last year, I was the webmaster for the ITASA 2010 West Coast Conference at UCSD, which became my first major commitment in the Taiwanese American community.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Although I’ve just begun my positions as Public Relations Co-Chair and Webmaster of the Taiwanese American Organization (TAO) at UC Irvine, I can’t wait to contribute the cultural lessons and memories through TAO. TAO gave me a chance to explore and learn more about my Taiwanese culture. Through events, TAO educates its members of Taiwanese culture, history, and current events. It also helps and provides opportunities for those who want to give back to the Taiwanese American community and to broaden their horizons. I avidly support TAO and its purpose and goals – it gave me a chance to learn and have fun, and now I want to help provide others with opportunities and and learning experiences.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage, even as a second generation Taiwanese American. Though I may not know everything about Taiwan, and my Taiwanese and Mandarin are not fluent, the passion and interest I have in my culture never dies and makes me proud to be of Taiwanese heritage. Every time I learn something about Taiwan, my pride and passion for Taiwan is renewed and strengthened. Taiwan may be small, but the tight-knit and strong community makes up for it!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Check out our website at http://www.taouci.com/


Monica Chenglo – High School President of Stand Up to Cancer Club

UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA

I understood the challenges of being a minority. Being the only girl with black hair and who carried dumplings for lunch, I went through the difficulties of finding balance.

Who are you?

I’m going to be a freshman at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In high school people call me Chenglo, my last name that rings as “Chain hang low”. Whatever my nickname is, I’ve grown to appreciate my roots of being an American born Taiwanese. Born in New Jersey in 1992 and raised in California, I understood the challenges of being a minority. Being the only girl with black hair and who carried dumplings for lunch, I went through the difficulties of finding balance.  Eventually I learned English, and found the beauty of expression. I took up choir at a young age, and volunteered to do singspiration at church. Art also became another hobby that took up much of my time. I enrolled in AP Art in high school, allowing me to branch my expertise in drawing. Soon I opened up art galleries and showcases at my church. Aside from drawing, I love collecting seashells and enjoy long beach walks. Seahorses are my favorite, tiffany’s blue is my color, and sushi never gets old. I enjoy swimming and cooking cupcakes. Sometimes I’m mistaken as a feminist, but I just believe that we must be heard.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Since I’m part of the first graduating class of my high school, I got many opportunities to be a leader. Making traditions was something I relished doing. I became president for my “Stand Up to Cancer” club that raised money for cancer organizations. My motive was to test my ability to be a role model. Although I didn’t gather a stable group of members, I gave it a shot.  I learned that even a little goes a long way. I’m also a member of SOLD project, an organization that educates people about sex trafficking in third world countries.  Sometimes I believe that we need to be followers to become successful leaders. I’ve joined volunteer clubs and camps that deepened my morals. I’ve been a dedicated member of TAYL (now known as TACL-LYF), a camp that taught me to not be ashamed of being Asian, but instead embrace the beauty of having a culture embedded in my blood. I’ve transitioned from being embarrassed about my heritage to becoming a Taiwanese American glistening with pride. Part of feeling “different” gave me that kick to find a new me.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I find it in my father, a man who has guided and supported me. At a young age my dad was a firm believer in having a voice in politics, especially Taiwanese poltics.

I get it from my peers, people who succeeded in showing me that you can’t wait for something to get better. I’d like to say thanks to my friend D who reminds me that it’s my fault if I’m not happy with the outcome, and I’m the one who should fix it.

Mother earth and Children who look up to me.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I want teenagers and future generations to have a dream. My grandma constantly asks me what my dream is, and still today I don’t really know. Then it occured to me that children of today forget to have dreams and goals for a better future. Instead we rely to much on technology. Imagination thrives in a shorter time frame.

Therefore my dream is to find my dream. I want a eco-friendly environment as well as a generation full of intellectual thinkers and freelance artists!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m the second generation who likes stinky tofu and bah-zhang. Being an American to me doesn’t define me, but being Taiwanese gives me more of a definition of who I am. My ancestors came from Formosa, a beautiful island that held its own history, one very different from America. Since America is an amalgamation of different cultures, finding yourself gets lost. Being Taiwanese allowed me to realize that culture crafts a person.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Politically speaking Taiwan isn’t doing as well as I would’ve hoped for. I want Independence for Taiwan, because becoming part of the UN can be an uplifting boost. To me China and Taiwan are culturally different. I understand that some of our ancestors came from China, but Taiwan is one island with it’s own story to tell, not China’s.


Alex Shih – National Vice President of Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

I also want to show that Taiwan is home to beautiful people, great music, and a great social scene.

Who are you?

I am currently the National Vice President for the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA). I grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and am now a senior at Princeton University. At Princeton, I am a student in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. I have yet to make any solid plans for life after graduation; all I know is I want to be doing something that I enjoy. In addition to ITASA, Princeton TASA is really important to me; whenever we throw an event or just relax together I am guaranteed to have a good time! I am also involved with Princeton’s International Relations Council (IRC). Last spring, nine members of IRC and I were lucky enough to visit Taiwan for a week to attend WorldMUN in Taipei. It was wonderful to be able to show Taipei to my friends who had never been there before. In my spare time, I like to listen to music from Taiwan, Korea, and the United States. I also try to stay aware of current events by reading the BBC, Taipei Times, and various blogs and Twitter pages. I am a big fan of karaoke and am most thankful for my friends.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) is a national organization that provides resources for college students interested in Taiwanese culture. Through a variety of projects, ITASA helps college students find a voice, community, and identity. These projects include annual conferences and mixers to bring students together in a social setting, a newsletter to let other students know what their peers are up to, and a website with great resources.

As Vice President, I work with the rest of the ITASA National Board to implement our initiatives. In the past, I organized a mixer in New York City for students from the tri-state area as well as a concert outing to Connecticut to see Taiwanese band Mayday (五月天) perform. This year, I will be maintaining a blog on the new ITASA website that shares interesting information about Taiwan: music, politics, movies, nightlife, and more. I will also be helping the ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference team run a successful conference. And of course I will be at as many ITASA events as possible because they are always fun!

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I am motivated by fun and friends. I’ve found that initiatives (whether they entail holding a huge event or just showing up to a simple meeting) are most successful when they are fun and with friends. When I work with my friends I am having fun, and that makes projects infinitely easier to accomplish. To that end, while it’s of course necessary to tackle the more formal aspects of a job, it’s also essential that team members develop friendly relationships between one another. As a leader, I believe it’s important to facilitate that.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I hope that ITASA can continue to help people discover the various aspects of the Taiwanese American identity. I also hope ITASA can show Taiwanese Americans how fun Taiwan is. Some Taiwanese Americans see Taiwan only as a humid island where the grandparents tell them they’re getting too fat or they need to eat more. It definitely includes those aspects, but I also want to show that Taiwan is home to beautiful people, great music, and a great social scene.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage because Taiwanese Americans and Taiwanese people are positive people who care about one another. On New Years Eve 2008, Taipei 101 displayed the message “Love Taiwan.” On New Years Eve 2009, it displayed the message “Taiwan Up.”  Even when something awful happens, Taiwanese people stay together and stay positive. I am also proud that Jay Chou is from Taiwan because he is very talented.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I see all Taiwanese Americans, wherever they are, loving each other and loving Taiwan.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Please check out ITASA at http://www.itasa.org and please keep your eyes peeled for information about upcoming events!


Steven Hsieh – Vice President of Taiwanese Students Association at Stony Brook

Stony Brook University, South Setauket, NY

For me, the future of Taiwanese America is an actual chapter in my Asian American studies textbook and not a sentence or two spoken in a semester of lectures.

Who are you?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American. Currently I am a sophomore majoring in Marine Vertebrate Biology with a minor in Asian American Studies at Stony Brook University. I enjoy swimming, Facebooking, and embracing my Taiwanese heritage.  At home, I speak Taiwanese, something I have done for as long as I can remember. I always considered myself a Taiwanese American since I was young, always telling people that I’m Taiwanese and not Chinese. During the past few years, I became more passionate about my Taiwanese identity, especially after joining Taiwanese American Next Generation (TANG) in 2008.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I volunteer for the Taiwanese American Association of Long Island (TAALI) and I am serving as the Vice President of the Taiwanese Students Association (TSA) at Stony Brook University. I started helping out at TAALI during the summer of 2008 as a counselor at the first year of TAALI’s 5 day culture summer day camp.  Since then I have helped at many of TAALI’s events, setting up, translating, and making the occasional slideshow, and finished my third year as counselor at the culture camp. I started getting involved with the Taiwanese Students Association when I first started college, going to the general body meetings and volunteering at TSA’s main event of the year, the Night Market. Even though I wasn’t on the TSA board, I tried to promote more interaction between TSA and TAALI by inviting TSA to TAALI events and trying to get Taiwanese families in the local area to try to come to the TSA Night Market.  Slowly I became more recognized as a dedicated member as attendance at meetings decreased. I was able to be elected as Vice President of TSA.  As a student leader of TSA, I hope to get more people to come to TSA and to make the club interesting enough that people will continue to come to our events.  I think that being a 2nd generation Taiwanese American will help bring some new energy and a new perspective to TSA and TAALI.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I think that my inspiration as a student leader comes from watching my fellow Taiwanese Americans, such as the TANG staff and developers of TaiwaneseAmerican.org, do wonderful things and make great strides in the Taiwanese American community.  Watching these people working so hard both at the local and national level has motivated me to make a difference in my local community.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

My vision is a community of 1st and 2nd generation Taiwanese Americans made up from TAALI and TSA. I hope that the work I do for both TAALI and TSA will inspire other 2nd generation Taiwanese Americans in my community to embrace their Taiwanese American identity and help out in the community.  I also hope to see more interaction between the 1st and 2nd generations of my local community working together to promote both Taiwan and the Taiwanese American identity. I would like to, in particular, try and bring down the cultural barriers that separate 1st generation and 2nd generation college age students so that we can work together more easily in our community.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m proud to belong to a culture with a such a diverse background.  Taiwanese culture has been influenced by many other cultures to create its own unique blend. It has stood against so many obstacles and still remains strong. I think that this influence of other cultures makes us as Taiwanese more tolerant of other ideas because our own culture is also changed in some way. Embracing my Taiwanese heritage has helped shape my identity and how people see me.  Taiwanese are known as dedicated, hard working, and friendly people, and I hope that people will be able to view me the same way.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

For me, the future of Taiwanese America is an actual chapter in my Asian American studies textbook and not a sentence or two spoken in a semester of lectures. I want people to be able to see that the Taiwanese and Chinese are two different groups, and I hope people can look at our unique community and appreciate all that we have accomplished. I also hope that 2nd generation Taiwanese Americans can be more involved and not forget their Taiwanese heritage.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Alongside being VP of TSA, I also serve as secretary of Tzu Chi Stony Brook Collegiate Association and I love bubble tea!


Eryn Hong – Director of Kopitonez A Cappella

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

We need others to hear our voices, whether we’re singers or not. Like so many of the Taiwanese American leaders who have already paved the way, we need to speak up and promote our unique identity.

Who are you?

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, double majoring in Political Science and Psychology, and minoring in Applied Statistics. The odd spelling of my name actually came from an episode of Jeopardy (what can I say? My dad hoped the connection would boost my IQ). Because I was born and raised in Michigan, I’m used to the mind-numbingly cold winters, and sometimes if I’m feeling crazy enough, I even wear flip flops when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. Although I was born in the states, I get a deep feeling of homesickness whenever I leave Taiwan, and thus visit as often as possible. My passions are family, friends, dogs, and music; I believe that as long as I have those four things in my life, everything else will fall into place. In my spare time, I like to write music, bake cheesecakes, and play with my dog, Cherry.

Comparable to Willy Wonka’s Gobstoppers, my ebullience is everlasting. I may not know how to charm a boy with my nonsensical idiom explanations, animated facial expressions, or unbelievably lame jokes, but I have the uncanny ability to whip out silly mnemonics that will unexpectedly be etched into your brain in a split second. Known to my friends as a nickname-inventing, compulsive email-checking, hug-attacking, dish-washing, over-analyzing narcoleptic, I’m really just a fun-loving ball of… fun… at heart.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I devote most of my extracurricular time to Kopitonez, the premier and only Asian-interest a cappella group at the University of Michigan. We sing songs in a variety of languages including but not limited to English, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean. The goal of our group is not only to share our craft, but to also spread multicultural awareness across campus and in the community. I started out as a general member because I had spontaneously auditioned after overcoming my stage fright (shoutout to Taiwanese American Foundation Juniors Program for letting me lead choir and swing choir!) and complete lack of singing experience. Over the course of one year, I arranged songs, planned our fall concert, and eventually ran for the position of Director. As such, my duties include serving a supervisory role over members of the group, representing Kopitonez to outside parties, and most importantly, facilitating a harmonious relationship between all members.

Besides Kopitonez, I am also a Walker Conference Co-chair for the Undergraduate Political Science Association. UPSA is a non-partisan organization that works directly with the Political Science Department. Our main goal is to promote a better understanding of politics and political issues across campus. The Walker Conference is our organization’s biggest event, held every spring, which has recently been revived over the past couple of years. We bring in politicians, professionals, and academics to speak about issues the field has faced and continues to face. As a co-chair, my job entails providing peer academic advising to my fellow students, organizing the event with a carefully chosen committee, and also coordinating numerous events for UPSA members throughout the year. My interest in political science actually stems from being Taiwanese American.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

From my groups, of course! Without a group, I would not be a leader. Of course I have to come up with some ideas on my own and motivate myself, but what keeps me going is seeing the impact I have on others. They influence me as much as I hope to influence them. Leading is not about telling people what to do and barking orders; it’s about fostering open communication with people who are united by a common purpose.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

For Kopitonez, I hope to share diversity through music. As our school’s only Asian-interest a cappella group, we have already set a precedent, and I only hope to bring a renewed sense of culture to campus.

For UPSA, I hope to bring together students who share my enthusiasm for political science. With a deeper insight, broader knowledge of past and present issues, we can bring about dynamic changes in the future.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

NIGHT MARKETS.

On a more serious note, I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. As I said earlier, although I was born in the states, I still feel this sense of “home” every time I go back to Taiwan. More than just physically being there, it’s about the people. I can go anywhere in the world, and still I will never find anyone like the Taiwanese people. No words can express the connection I feel when I’m around them. Asking me why I’m proud to be of Taiwanese heritage is like asking me why I’m proud to be my parents’ daughter, my grandparents’ granddaughter, so on and so forth. It’s who I am, and hearing stories of my family’s struggles only humbles me and inspires me to do all that I can for my “home.”

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Well, I’m a musician, so my answer’s going to appeal to the sense of hearing. The future of Taiwanese America SOUNDS louder to me. We need others to hear our voices, whether we’re singers or not. Like so many of the Taiwanese American leaders who have already paved the way, we need to speak up and promote our unique identity.

Any additional information you would like to share?

http://youtube.com/user/kopitonez

bigbigbigbigBIG shoutout to TAF and Kopis for making me the leader I am. Love you guys!


Vanessa Lee – Operations Director of Supplies for Dreams, Inc.

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

I draw my inspiration and motivation to be a student leader from two main sources: Passion about a social issue I identify with and people who also believe in and work towards alleviating that issue.

Who are you?

A senior at Northwestern University, I discovered my passion for volunteer work fairly early on while in high school.  Ever since then my area of focus has become more clearly defined; the majority of my work in the past few years in college has involved youth and education.  Basically anything that involves working with children is what I’m about.  I’ve been on the front lines as a tutor and mentor for inner-city Chicago students for all ages and as a camp counselor for kids whose parents have had or currently have cancer.  I’ve also been on the logistical side of things, developing a curriculum for field trips, creating a mentoring program, and organizing volunteers to serve as tutors.  I’m interested in using both ways to help teach youth of all ages that education is an important and necessary component to achieving their life and academic goals.  Basically, I believe in working at the grassroots level to create change.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I’ve been working with the student-run non-profit Supplies for Dreams for the past two years.  Started by two high school students who are now also Northwestern students, Supplies for Dreams helps disadvantaged children from the Chicago Public School system by providing basic school supplies, mentors, and learning opportunities such as field trips to museums.  The Executive Director brought me on board when he was a freshman, and through me he was able to establish Supplies for Dreams at Northwestern.  Since then I’ve served as the Public Relations Director, the Dream Mentors Director to develop that branch of the organization, and since January as the Operations Director to oversee all staff in the organization.

In the past two years, Supplies for Dreams has become a full-service non-profit with revenues exceeding $43,000 in the first half of 2010 alone.  Its programs and events have benefited over 1,200 Chicago Public School (CPS) students mainly from low-income communities of all different races and ethnicities.  It has also involved over 20 members of staff, 160 volunteers, and countless donors.  The impact that Supplies for Dreams has made on CPS students in the past two years has exceeded my wildest dreams and will continue to do so.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I think I may be stereotypical in saying so, but I draw my inspiration and motivation to be a student leader from two main sources: Passion about a social issue I identify with and people who also believe in and work towards alleviating that issue.  Just looking at statistics confirms for that there is a serious problem with the Chicago Public School system.  Only 6% of CPS students are expected to graduate from college.  Most people went to high schools that had 90-95% graduation rates from high school and the majority of that percentage continued onto college and definitely more than 6% graduated from college.  I find those numbers infuriating and depressing at the same time.  The fact that there are students out there who would succeed if only they were given the resources that I had had access to while growing up, but who won’t succeed and will never reach their true potential because they are low-income drives me and my work within Supplies for Dreams to make a difference.  Not only that, but the people that we have drawn to our team are also passionate about the issue of education and have dedicated much of their time to the organization.  Seeing their continuous dedication reminds me again and again that no matter how frustrating the programs we develop may be or how overwhelming what we are trying to tackle is, that we need to continue doing what we do because we can and have accomplished some great things.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

My vision for the organization is fairly similar to others within our team in that we hope to see the student-run non-profit Supplies for Dreams continue to grow and support more students in the Chicago Public Schools.  Last year we donated 100 backpacks full of a years worth of school supplies CPS students, but this year we were able to donate 1,000 backpacks.  Maybe years down the line the organization can be providing 10,000 backpacks.  Not only that but our mentoring programs have been fairly small-scale so far, so hopefully in the future they can be further developed and begin to work with entire schools.  Ultimately, the goal of the organization, as with any other non-profit is to have a positive impact on communities.


Melody Lin – President of UCSD’s Student Health Advocates

UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA

For me, this self-realization of what being Taiwanese meant was a stepping stone towards the immense pride I now feel.

Who are you?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American, born and raised in San Jose, California, and now completing my last year of undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego. Throughout the course of my life, I have been fortunate enough to live a comfortable lifestyle full of wellness and good health. My parents immigrated from Taiwan to the US some thirty odd years ago, in search of better prospects for education and undoubtedly, for the good of their future children. In doing so, they essentially secured for me a life where opportunities abound. For that, among a plethora of other priceless opportunities, I cannot thank them enough!

Since childhood, I had always known that I wanted to become a practicing physician, and my coursework, personal experiences and extracurricular have only bolstered such a goal. But it has since become more than just a childhood aspiration. In my studies and coursework in healthcare sociology, I have been able to juxtapose this lifestyle that my parents selflessly gave to me, and the lifestyles of those who are not as socially and economically fortunate as I am. That childhood aspiration has suddenly become more tangible and multifaceted, and I have found myself both frustrated and fascinated by the status of healthcare and modern medicine. Although I have yet to don my scrubs and white coat, I feel like this is no longer just a fantasy of age-old naïveté, but something which I am confident I want to do for life.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I currently serve as President of UCSD’s Student Health Advocates (SHA). SHAs work through the on-campus clinic, UCSD Student Health Services (SHS), and essentially act as student liaisons between the general student body and SHS to promote student health and awareness of health issues. The SHA program is an essential component of SHS, and offers many activities and outreaches through which to inform and educate. SHAs are trained in performing basic clinical tasks, as well as in educating students about many health issues and concerns. When seeking general information about health issues, which can sometimes be sensitive, people often find it more comfortable to talk to peers. Therefore, as trained student educators, SHAs provide a powerful service to the overall health of the student body.

I can easily say that the SHA program has been the highlight of my undergraduate career. Not only has it provided me with ample opportunities to experience the clinical environment and learn about various health issues, it has also allowed me to develop and apply various skills in communication, teamwork, and efficiency. As a general SHA, I perfected the tasks of taking blood pressure, educating students on the effects of smoking and presenting methods through which to deal with stress. As President, aside from overseeing general body and officer meetings, I have taken on responsibilities geared more toward the planning and execution of our events. Working with a board of officers, I have truly learned how much time and coordination it takes to effectively carry out a single event. But it’s worthwhile to see the successful completion of each event, and knowing how much it helps fellow students. Being President of SHA has allowed me to commit to my passions of providing for people from a different, more indirect perspective, and further attests to my goal of becoming a health care provider.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I believe one of the most basic wonders of being a patient lies in observing the seemingly endless knowledge being relayed to you, and the simple, satisfying feeling of knowing you will get better on the basis of such information. In realizing this, from the plethora of visits I made to my own physician, I concluded that I would like to someday be on the other side of this professional-to-patient exchange and experience the satisfaction of being able to inform, educate and improve the lives of others. This was primarily why I became involved in SHA, since it offered opportunities to become an active and vocal advocate for health to the general student body.

I also believe that in following the path toward being a health care professional, it is a moral responsibility of physicians to be aware of social issues and the current health care disparities experienced by the populace. Because of such goals, I take it upon myself to understand not only the hard clinical elements of the medical sciences, but also the social elements which strongly affect health. As such, I am also involved in the Roosevelt Institute, a student-based policy think tank, where I research and write briefs to suggest ideas for improvements in health care. For example, I recently published a policy brief on vaccine shortages in the US and their impact on public health, to be presented to politicians on Capitol Hill. In doing so, I hope to better understand the basis of what I hope to make my career, and to apply myself to the health of society in general. In essence, I am driven by aspirations of what I would like to see in terms of improvements in medicine and health care, as well as by personal passions. To sum this up…See the change? Be the change.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Growing up, there was definitely a bit of confusion about my ethnicity. My parents were born and raised in Taiwan, as were my grandparents and their parents. I was therefore Taiwanese as well, on the basis of heritage. I would tell my friends that yes, “I am Taiwanese!” But when they asked me how it differed from being Chinese, I wasn’t sure what to say.

But after each yearly childhood trip to beautiful Taiwan, I realized that it was too culturally unique – the history, the people, the places, the (amazing) food – to be confused with another country. The texture and taste of the air walking around 西門町, the demeanor of the populace and the way in which they carry themselves, the very quirks of your beloved 阿公 and 阿嬤 that you’d only expect to find in peoples so very vested and brought to fruition in what makes Taiwan, Daiwan.

For me, this self-realization of what being Taiwanese meant was a stepping stone towards the immense pride I now feel. It is but a small tribute to the struggle of Taiwan to be recognized by the world, but at the same time, the struggle for recognition makes me all the more proud, as it shows the resilience of the Taiwanese people and their unwavering loyalty and love toward what makes them so unique. Taiwan is truly a source of inspiration and as such, I am proud to call myself Taiwanese American.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

As American born peoples residing in America, it is easy to forget the roots of our heritage. I hope that my fellow Taiwanese Americans will strive to uphold facets of Taiwanese culture, such as through learning to speak Taiwanese, and learning the history and struggles of Taiwan. We can thereby preserve, uphold and even strengthen our presence in America. Additionally, it is a privilege to be exposed to both the cultures of Taiwan and America. I hope that we, as bi-cultural people, can apply what we learn within each culture and utilize it to improve upon the other.


William Li – President of UC Berkeley’s Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society

UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Being raised in a culture where education is a prized commodity was probably the underlying factor in how I ended up where I am today.

Who are you?

I am a Master’s student at UC Berkeley studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I’ve been programming since middle school and I love every minute of it. I’m currently the President of UC Berkeley’s Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society chapter, and I’ve been involved as an officer for a total of five semesters now. I also created Ninja Courses, a class scheduling website for UC Berkeley that about 20% of the undergraduate population uses. In fact, I’m planning on creating a startup with this website after I graduate. When I’m not working in front of my computer, I love playing tennis, running, snowboarding, or just exploring the great state of California.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Tau Beta Pi serves as an honor society for distinguished students, but also provides plenty of student services for the entire student body, including exam files database, an email help desk, and two child organizations. One of these organizations is Pioneers in Engineering, a high school robotics outreach program; the other is E98, a student-led course on how to survive Berkeley engineering. As for my personal role, I started out on the IT committee writing new features and even rewrote the entire website from scratch when our server was compromised. Eventually, I became more involved in a leadership role – first as IT Committee Chair, then VP, and then President. I used to be a really shy person before I joined TBP, but the people are amazing and I soon unlocked my potential within the organization (and also outside).

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

Inspiring high school students to pursue a degree in engineering is awesome. I served as a mentor for a team for Pioneers in Engineering, and the students all look up to you for both short-term robotics advice and long-term college and career goals. The world can’t have too many engineers.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Being raised in a culture where education is a prized commodity was probably the underlying factor in how I ended up where I am today (I’m a 2nd generation Taiwanese American). Many people didn’t have the same support for education that my parents provided (both in school and extracurriculars), and I’m very grateful for the way I was raised. It manifests itself even today when I’m continuing to explore new topics and challenge the limits of my knowledge.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I made a game that ran on the XBox 360. I thought that was mindblowing. Also, I made a 3-minute long domino chain/rube goldberg machine while my parents were out of town on a vacation. They came home to a snaking line of contraptions that stretched throughout the house – I still consider this one of my greatest moments.

Random fact: I wear toe shoes! People think it looks funny, but they’re very comfortable and my feet don’t hurt while running now.

Another random fact: I don’t eat ice cream. Why? I’m not really sure… we all have our quirks.

http://ninjacourses.com
http://williamhli.com


Nikki Lee – Camp Counselor, Martial Artist, and Volunteer English Teacher

UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA

The most important part of being a counselor is to not just to help campers learn more about the Taiwanese culture, but to look for those who may be potential leaders within the Taiwanese American community.

Who are you?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American and college freshman at UCSD who’s passionate about working for the advancement of the Taiwanese American community. I have been involved in the TA community ever since I participated in the Journalism Internship Program (JIP) hosted by the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) during my junior year. Through the internship, I volunteered at many events that helped me understand more about Taiwan’s political situation. I also met many Taiwanese American leaders who inspired me to become a leader within the community.

Outside of my Taiwanese American community, I have been practicing martial arts for eight years and am currently an assistant instructor. As an assistant instructor, I help demonstrate new and difficult techniques to lower level belts. I was someone who struggled in the beginning to grasp basic techniques, so I feel like it is my duty to motivate other struggling martial artists to always give their best. I plan to continue my martial arts career by joining a team at UCSD this fall.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

This summer, I was a volunteer English teacher at Sin Fa elementary school (新發國小) in rural Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The school was a few minutes away from the area where Typhoon Morakot hit last summer. With a partner, I taught first graders who in the beginning had no motivation to learn English. We had to think of many fun activities to encourage students to learn. I learned more about the lifestyle in Taiwan, how to manage a noisy classroom, and became a little more fluent in Taiwanese and Mandarin. Although the students didn’t have much compared to students in the U.S., their energy and eagerness to participate during class made teaching one of the most memorable experiences in my life.

Besides the Journalism Internship Program, I have been involved with the Leadership Identity Development (LID) camp that is also hosted by TACL. Last summer, I attended as a camper. This summer, I had the opportunity be a camp counselor. My co-counselor and I were in charge of a small group of shy seventh and eighth graders. I learned how to step out of my comfort zone in order to encourage my campers to participate in social camp activities. The background planning and bonding with campers are my favorite parts of camp. But the most important part of being a counselor is to not just to help campers learn more about the Taiwanese culture, but to look for those who may be potential leaders within the Taiwanese American community. Being a counselor required hard work and no sleep, but it was definitely rewarding in the end. My goal is to become a camp coordinator and see all my campers become counselors one day.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I look up to my dad who is also a Taiwanese community activist. He has dedicated his life to working toward Taiwanese recognition, which has motivated me to do the same.

I also look up to Erica Ling, who directed the ITASA West Coast Conference at UCSD in April this year. She inspired me to dream big and to play an even larger role within the Taiwanese American community.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud of my Taiwanese heritage because it is just who I am. Nothing and no one can change that.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

The future of Taiwanese America will have more Taiwanese Americans making the spotlight in the U.S. media and politics. There will be schools for people to learn Taiwanese. Thomas Shu’s Taiwan Tea will be sold at Starbucks across the nation. Adam Wang will win an Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor” for his role in a new movie with Johnny Depp. Squatting toilets will be in style. Tsua-bing will be the new frozen yogurt. And finally, Taiwan will be recognized as a country by everyone around the world.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I have a birthmark shaped like Taiwan.


Jeff Hsu – Technical Founder of Mobilizing Health

UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Life has taught me a few things in the last 21 years: 1) always forget regret, for life is yours to miss 2) life is too short not to pursue your dreams and 3) Taiwanese food is the best. I cannot emphasize that last point enough.

Who are you?

I am Jeff Hsu, a 21 year old Taiwanese American from Rowland Heights, California. Once a chubby kid, I grew up speaking Taiwanese with my grandmother, eating shaved ice, and drinking boba. I love Taiwan and America and am happy to have the best of both worlds. I am currently a 4th year Electrical Engineering and Computer Science undergraduate at UC Berkeley. I am passionate about two things: engineering new technologies that can make this world a better place for our future, and creating music that can move people’s hearts. My biggest fear is absolute boredom. I get restless easily, and am always in need of a new adventure. I am Taiwanese American, but I hate taro. If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be with Kaskade, Nelson Mandela, the Oracle from the Matrix, and Jay Chou. I firmly believe in trying everything at least once. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano and tennis, making music, swing dancing, and rock climbing.

My past adventures include working at Apple on the chip inside of the iPhone 4 and the iPad, and founding the technology behind a non-profit organization, Mobilizing Health, that provides free healthcare advice to rural villagers from licensed doctors through text messages. Current adventures I am undertaking involve tutoring prison inmates in basic math at the San Quentin State Prison in Northern California, training for a handful of triathlons, creating electronic music, and conducting research on energy-efficient technologies for buildings.

Life has taught me a few things in the last 21 years: 1) always forget regret, for life is yours to miss 2) life is too short not to pursue your dreams and 3) Taiwanese food is the best. I cannot emphasize that last point enough.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

In March 2010, I was approached by the founder of Mobilizing Health and asked to create the SMS technology behind her organization. While all of my colleagues were looking for tech internships in Silicon Valley, I was interested in doing something more fulfilling than sitting in a cubicle all day.  A chance to help the world and travel to India for the summer? Sounds awesome, I thought! After three months of long nights of programming in Berkeley, my team and I brought the technology to India and got to work. We toiled around the entire country. Starting in Mumbai, we looked for SMS companies to collaborate with. We then went to Udaipur to persuade licensed doctors to join our program. We spent weeks driving to villages convincing people to adopt Mobilizing Health as a hub for healthcare information. After nearly getting deported because of visa issues, we took a twelve-hour overnight train ride to New Delhi to convince the government to let us stay for another month to get our program off the ground. This was probably the most intense summer of my life.

What does Mobilizing Health aim to do, you ask? Well, more than six million people die annually from treatable diseases in India (and many more in other developing countries), mainly due to the lack of access to medical professionals; there are only ten physicians per 100,000 people in rural areas in India. Our mission is to utilize our web-based technology – driven by inexpensive text messages – in order to connect licensed doctors and nurses to these medically underserved masses of rural villages. My technology currently provides free, first-aid preventative healthcare advice to people in fifty different villages bordering the city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, India, and we continue to expand.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

For the longest time, failure was my biggest fear. Then I realized, one day, that we have a limited time here on Earth to do what our hearts guide us to do. And of course, obstacles will always arise, but nothing worth doing ever comes easy, and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, better, and smarter. And really, what can’t you do with the support of good friends and great family in one of the freest countries in the world? You can do this. Don’t become old without giving your dreams a shot at success.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

Every kid deserves a shot at life. Unfortunately, most people in rural regions of developing nations, especially kids, have no access to healthcare. Private doctors just don’t have any incentive to treat patients in the rural areas of India, and government hospitals are frequently too overwhelmed to give good service. Because of this, even the diseases that we consider benign here in America can put a Indian family in jeopardy. My vision for Mobilizing Health is that it can further expand to third world countries other than India to at least provide a simple form of free preventative first-aid healthcare to underserved villagers using new, emerging technologies. By achieving this, the parents of families can remain healthy enough to take care of their children, and most importantly, the children can grow up healthy and strong enough to pursue their goals and dreams. The future of every third world country depends on its youth, and good health for kids can lead to a reduction in poverty and ultimately, a better society.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. Coming to America from Taiwan with close to nothing, my parents taught me the importance of hard work and kindness. Growing up in America has taught me to pursue my dreams and goals. I am proud to be a Taiwanese American, because I am blessed with the best of two awesome worlds.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

While I am specifically Taiwanese American, I believe that the Asian American community must work together as a whole to establish our identity in the United States. The absence of Asian Americans in the media, especially in music and film, is a bit startling, considering the ever-present talent in the Asian American community. We bring richness to the American melting pot of diversity. However, I am optimistic that, with time, we will be able to strengthen our community’s identity through unity and hard work.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I hope to become a Professor in Computer Science and a world famous electronic music artist someday!


Lester Kao – National President of Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

I believe a key catalyst to stirring debate about what it means to be Taiwanese American is to build communities that allow students to meet other students of different perspectives.

Who are you?

My name is Lester Kao and I am from Seattle, Washington. I am currently a senior majoring in Economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. In my spare time, I enjoy photography, visiting museums, and sampling foods from different cultures. I also have an immense interest in public policy with regards to international development and transportation infrastructure. At Hopkins, I am conducting independent research about the economic and societal benefits of high speed rail systems. It is my hope that I can use the outcome of my research to craft a policy proposal for the Northeast Corridor region of the United States. I also hope to pursue a career in the public sector, and I am currently applying to public policy graduate programs in hopes of honing the skills necessary to succeed in the civil service.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Over a decade and a half old, the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) is an organization that provides resources and programs for students in college to better explore their heritage and identity, to help build unity among the various collegiate communities, and to help students develop and hone their leadership skills. As National President, I work with other members of the ITASA National Board to help develop our programs and activities to ensure we remain a valuable resource to all Taiwanese American student groups across the country. I am a firm believer in an organization’s need to give back to its community. This year, I am working with other members of ITASA to develop a philanthropy program that student organizations across the country can participate in. I believe such a program will be valuable as it will help more students across the country engage in the vibrant debate that exists in the greater Taiwanese American community. In addition, I hope to work with other members of the ITASA National Board to further develop our regions, to solidify the bonds between student groups and to build up communities in the regions we serve. I also look forward to working with other Taiwanese American groups as we share common goals.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I think an eagerness to make a difference is what inspires me. Before I joined ITASA, I had an interest in seeing my own TASA at Johns Hopkins interact with other TASA’s in Maryland. One of the reasons why I joined ITASA was to help solidify these bonds. It continues to motivate me until this day. I believe a key catalyst to stirring debate about what it means to be Taiwanese American is to build communities that allow students to meet other students of different perspectives. This is what drives me as a student leader – helping to grow a sense of community, and helping to make a difference.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I hope down the road that ITASA can serve as a dynamic and valuable resource in every region. ITASA’s nationwide effectiveness hinges on the continued strength of Taiwanese American collegiate communities coast to coast. I hope to work with other organizations to develop programs that motivate and empower students to become active in their own Taiwanese American communities both in college and beyond college. I see ITASA as a stepping stone between Taiwanese American organizations across the country and I believe that collaboration among all of us serves to develop the greater Taiwanese American community here in the United States.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I believe that the future of Taiwanese America looks bright. We are a vibrant community and I hope the vibrant dialogue about what it means to be Taiwanese American can continue in the future. I hope ITASA, along with other groups, can continue to serve as a medium for college students to explore their identity. I also hope ITASA, in working with local partners, can better help develop Taiwanese American communities in regions of the United States that are currently under-served.


Amy Ishiguro – President of Taiwanese Church Youth Group and Academic Decathlon Team Captain

Walnut Creek, CA

With the same kind of determination and perseverance, the next generation of Taiwanese Americans can do even greater things. The future is limitless and the next generation is capable. Expect us to succeed and we will exceed your expectations.

Who are you?

In March, I was elected by my church’s youth group to serve as president for the 2010-2011 school year. As well as being president, my junior year of high school involves taking AP classes, running cross country, and leading my school’s Academic Decathlon Team. Since I love everything I do – yes, I actually enjoy learning and running – I look forward to the challenges and experiences that each new day offers. I believe that being excited about daily activities, no matter how seemingly insignificant, makes life fulfilling.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The East Bay Formosan United Methodist Church (EBFUMC) Youth Group is comprised of Taiwanese youth in middle and high school. In addition to weekly Sunday school, putting on performances for the adults on special occasions, and volunteering at various charities, our youth group raises funds to benefit a different organization each year. Our main fundraisers are an annual summer talent show and Christmas music concert, but we conduct many smaller fundraisers throughout the year.

As president, I work with four other youths in the “Leadership Team” to generate ideas and plan activities. I lead monthly meetings so that the entire youth group can contribute their own ideas and suggestions, collaborate on planning, and vote on future activities. By coordinating activities, I hope to set a framework so that with everyone’s effort, we can turn abstract dreams into concrete reality.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My inspiration comes from other leaders who succeed in unifying people, as well as people I personally know who keep a positive attitude everyday. I try to emulate what they do.

My motivation comes from the members of the youth group. As president, it is my duty to act as the group’s representative; I must work hard in order to not let them down.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

Each year, our youth group only continues to improve with the addition of more members and therefore more ideas and positive energy. Joining the “I Love Taiwan” missionary program has been a tradition long before I joined EBFUMC. A record number of youth from our church (almost twenty) joined the program this summer and taught English to children all over Taiwan. Two years ago, we started our annual Talent Shows and Benefit Concerts. Last year’s funds benefitted the Asian Community Mental Health Services, and this year’s funds will benefit our first youth missionary trip to Hawaii, where we will help build houses and educate others about Taiwanese culture. As we have successfully been adding more activities to our repertoire, I am confident that the youth group will continue to expand and find ways to benefit the world community. In the future I would like the youth group to initiate its own programs as well as working to benefit or donate to other organizations. On top of this, I also hope that all youth can graduate from the group with a strong sense of purpose, leadership, and community.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am half Taiwanese and half Japanese and am second generation American. Although I have always been proud of my unique identity, I never fully understood the significance of being Taiwanese until joining my current Taiwanese church in 2008. To my pleasant surprise, I was welcomed at once by both the youth and adults. This was my first realization about the Taiwanese community: everyone is very warm and truly cares about others. I also learned that the Taiwanese are hardworking people with positive attitudes about the future. I am happy and proud to be part of this supportive community.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I am eagerly looking forward to seeing Taiwanese American youth grow up and become leaders in a wide range of fields. I feel that my parents and many first generation Taiwanese Americans worked hard to come to the United States. With the same kind of determination and perseverance, the next generation of Taiwanese Americans can do even greater things. The future is limitless and the next generation is capable. Expect us to succeed and we will exceed your expectations.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I love dancing. My favorite styles of dance are ballet and jazz, which I have been dancing for five years.


Audrey Tseng – Cranemaker

Cranbury, NJ

One of my closest friends, Helene Cody, was hospitalized due to a brain aneurysm.  At the time, I came up with the idea to make 1000 cranes for her.

Who are you?

I am a 17 year old high school student who hopes to leave a positive impact on the world.  I love to eat and you’ll always find me visiting someplace new.  I have lived in New Jersey all my life and I always like to have a good laugh.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

During my sophomore year, one of my closest friends, Helene Cody, was hospitalized due to a brain aneurysm.  At the time, I came up with the idea to make 1000 cranes for her. For those who don’t know the myth, it’s that if one makes 1000 cranes they will be granted a wish such as a recovery from an illness. I was able to get lot of people involved and we were slowly making progress in reaching our goal. Unfortunately, before all the cranes were finished, Helene passed away after being hospitalized for four days on her 16th birthday. Yet because of the outpour of people of who wanted to help, over 3000 cranes were made by the time of the funeral. In her memory, her parents created the Helene Marilyn Cody Foundation. To put the cranes to good use we decided to create a display at the Pediatric ward of Princeton Medical Center in hopes of creating an inspirational piece of artwork in the playroom.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

The mission of the Helene Marilyn Cody Foundation is to “inspire youth to volunteer, to better their communities, and to better themselves. We hope young people will continue to take the initiative, to live selflessly, and to incorporate this mentality into all aspects of their lives.”

I hope that one day we will be able to accomplish this mission and make a positive impact on the lives of many people.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Raised in a super patriotic Taiwanese family, I grew up attending every single Taiwan related event there was.  Since then, I’ve become an active participant in conferences such as the Taiwan American Next Generation and Formosan Association of Public Affairs-Young Professional Program. Without my Taiwanese heritage, I really wouldn’t be the same person I am today.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I hope to see a lot of Taiwanese Americans embracing their identity, representing themselves, and correcting misconceptions.  Hopefully, one day, the difference between being Taiwanese and Chinese won’t be need to be explained.

Any additional information you would like to share?

If you’re ever on the east coast, check out Taiwanese American Next Generation(TANG)! We’re always looking for new people to join!

http://www.tangeneration.org


Esther Cheng – Freshman and Transfer Orientation Leader

UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA

My parents, being first generation Taiwanese immigrants, have inspired me to help incoming students who also have to adjust to a new environment. Being a student leader will challenge you to become more open to different perspectives.

Who are you?

I am currently a proud sophomore of Thurgood Marshall College at UCSD. Although I was born in the small town of Charlottesville, Virginia, I spent my childhood in Taipei for nine years. In the spring of 2001, I moved to Arcadia, California. Having lived in both Taiwan and America shaped my perspectives; I have been blessed with the diverse cultures of both nations and have successfully integrated myself in both cultures. In high school, I was a part of the 400-member Apache Marching Band and in my fourth year, I learned to be a leader as a senior and as the band’s treasurer. Band taught me respect and teamwork, building me up to where I am now. Through my roles as both a freshman and transfer orientation leader, I strive to make people feel comfortable in new environments as they not only get their education at Thurgood Marshall College, but become integrated in a multicultural, welcoming family!

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

I am a freshman and transfer orientation leader of Thurgood Marshall College at the University of California, San Diego. Having just finished my wild ride of a freshman year, I decided to choose these positions because I wanted to guide new students to the Thurgood Marshall family. Initially, I was nervous about the position but I grew to realize that as long as you have a heart for what you do, you will excel! I have definitely been supported by my fellow orientation leaders, though. Being in the organization has exposed me to a charismatic and dynamic group, filled with people of all backgrounds. The unity we experience together is amazing, since we are all so different yet accepting of each other.

Marshall’s philosophy of the scholar and the citizen stands strong among the OL family, who all share the goal of creating a welcoming environment for newcomers.  Coming to UCSD may seem daunting at first, especially due to its size, but I want to show people that Marshall fosters a close-knit sense of community. When I was an incoming student, the orientation leaders radiated enthusiasm that clearly stemmed from their love for this college. I, too, hope to pass on the legacy of Marshall spirit!

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

My parents, being first generation Taiwanese immigrants, have inspired me to help incoming students who also have to adjust to a new environment. Being a student leader will challenge you to become more open to different perspectives. Arcadia, my hometown, was a predominantly Asian community, and coming to UCSD and working with the diverse orientation leaders and new students was definitely an eye-opening experience. The orientation leaders also motivate each other as we band together to face the challenges of representing our college in the best possible manner, making special efforts to accommodate each individual in a warm environment.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

My vision for the orientation leaders is to generate a greater sense of college pride and unity. Indeed, UCSD has a sprawling campus that spans a 30-minute cross-campus walk and has been said to lack school spirit, I hope to inspire students to get involved themselves so they can garner a greater sense of pride of being a student at UCSD and in particular, Thurgood Marshall College. Our college’s philosophy of being a scholar and a citizen applies greatly in the real world because hey, if you’re going out into the real world, it’s inevitable that you will encounter people from all walks of life. Being a scholar with all the knowledge in the world cannot replace the sense of accomplishment that one achieves by giving back to the community. I also hope to instill a sense of cultural acceptance and wish for people to come together to serve the community, despite social, economic, and political differences.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am very proud of my Taiwanese heritage. I was born in the US, but having spent my childhood days frolicking in both the concrete jungles and stunning beauty of Taiwan’s natural scenery, I adore the passion that the people have for the country. From the openness and hospitality I have experienced to the massive efforts to preserve the environment (through recycling programs, etc.), the enthusiasm that stems from being connected to strong Taiwanese roots shines through!

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I was greatly impressed by the amount of students from all over the West Coast who attended the ITASA 2010 conference, which was held at UCSD this year. I’d say that the future of Taiwanese America is looking bright, especially since I got to meet so many talented, dedicated, and unique individuals who are all very passionate in what they do, even at our age. I’m so glad to see that young Taiwanese Americans are starting to make a difference, even at a relatively young age! Who says that youth can’t make a difference?

Taiwanese Americans of the US, unite!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Taiwan is a small nation, and although I too am not the biggest fish in the ocean (I “tower” over everyone at a height of 4’9), we both should not be underestimated! We are both small in terms of physical aspects, but our great spirit and love make up for it.


Jeremy Chen – President of UIUC’s Taiwanese American Students Club

University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

I believe that sacrifice is a powerful device and is essential for a strong leader, in addition to sharing love. It takes a good leader to know when to give up their personal desires for a greater good.

Who are you?

I am a student at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana studying Psychology and Chemistry. I am originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, and I have two unbelievably awesome parents and a loving older brother. I am a second generation Taiwanese American who hopes to become a dentist in order to help my community, especially those less fortunate.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

This past year, I served as President for our school’s Taiwanese American Students Club (TASC). I was responsible for the overall leadership, direction, and cohesion of the board and general members. TASC’s mission is to provide a community for Taiwanese Americans, while sharing our experiences as individuals as well as our cultural heritage. My personal goal as President was to make TASC feel like a family. I utilized the social and leadership skills and bonding games/techniques I learned at Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF) to achieve the close-knit dynamic within TASC. I believe that this dynamic is essential for people or an organization to work well. By connecting on a personal and intimate level, we were able to hold successful events, promoting our Taiwanese heritage, while also forming long-lasting relationships.

TASC hosts a number of cultural and philanthropic events, such as Illinois Chinese Adopted Siblings Program (ICASP). Students volunteer as “”big siblings”” for children adopted from China so they can learn more about their culture and heritage. We provide a fun environment for the children and a community for the parents where we can share knowledge, questions, and advice on important issues in adoptive families. This is my favorite program because whether small or big, we make an impact on these children and provide a sense of heritage and identity that they might not have otherwise discovered.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I learned to become a leader at the summer camp, Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF). TAF is largely responsible for developing my character, personality, and sense of identity as a Taiwanese American. TAF taught me a number of important lessons and ideals that I try to uphold both as a person and as a student leader, such as servant leadership. I believe that sacrifice is a powerful device and is essential for a strong leader, in addition to sharing love. It takes a good leader to know when to give up their personal desires for a greater good. Without sacrifice and God, there can be no love.
Find your calling, follow your passions, and don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am 2nd generation Taiwanese American. I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian community. I was the only Asian American in my elementary school, and one of very few in my high school. But through TAF and my youth group, I found a community of Taiwanese Americans who accepted me for who I really was. I am proud to be Taiwanese American because we are a community of extremely diverse personalities, professions, and passions, yet share a love and connection to a truly Beautiful Island.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I have high expectations and hopes for the future of Taiwanese America. Just within the past few years, we have grown stronger as a community and more importantly, as a voice. We must continue to network with one another and stay connected through great organizations such as TAF and TaiwaneseAmerican.org in order to unite and become a driving force within this country. We can prevail if and only if we remain united.

Any additional information you would like to share?

One of my passions is making music. I play the guitar (poorly) and sing (averagely) but I love combining songs to make MASHUPS (probably because I’m too ADD to finish a whole song). Here are some of my creations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbeFvVrOhv8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwSiqp0OpEM
http://blog.tafworld.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/viva-love-forever-2010.mp3

Although I’m no Dawen, I still enjoy making music and performing with my friends.


Alice Chou – Co-Head Counselor of TACL’s Bay Area Youth Summer Camp

UC Davis, Davis, CA

I intend to instill the same inspiration in future campers. It has been nearly a decade since I first became involved, but I have no plans to stop. Ever.

Who are you?

I’m a second-year at UC Davis majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior with a minor in Education and doing research at the California National Primate Research Center. My mother is a high school teacher, and my father is a chemist. I have a dog named Boye and a younger brother who is slowly but surely introducing me to the finer points of video gaming. I love my weird music, the library, and all things geektastic. I paint, I play viola, and I look at the sky. My dream is to start a school focused on creativity in the sciences for kids enthusiastic about learning.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

Taiwanese American Citizen’s League – Leading Youth Forward (TACL-LYF) is a youth summer camp directed towards encouraging youth to actively participate in their community while forging a strong Taiwanese American identity. As one of the two head counselors, I coordinate the logistics of camp throughout the year by holding monthly counselor meetings and ensure that camp remains true to our mission, while still being fun.

Before I became a counselor, TACL-LYF was known as Taiwanese American Youth Leadership (TAYL) camp. After my very first year as a camper in 2002, TAYL was something to look forward to each summer after school ended. It was where I first learned the meaning of the word “stereotype” and exactly how much stereotypes had impacted my life. Each year, I would go back and grow more as a person; TAYL was where I became a leader. I intend to instill the same inspiration in future campers. It has been nearly a decade since I first became involved, but I have no plans to stop. Ever.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I find inspiration through my teachers (past and present) and people who are willing to take what they learn and apply it to helping others. My high school experience played an enormous part in motivating me to do bigger things. During my senior year, I teamed up with four other students to raise money for our school to combat the education budget cuts. The success of the Save Our Schools campaign and the subsequent waterfall of similar projects it created in neighboring schools led me to believe that with enough passion and determination, one can do anything.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I want all the campers to make lifelong friends that help each other  achieve their aspirations. TACL-LYF will be a place where people come each summer to have fun, inspire, and be inspired.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American. To me, being Taiwanese American is not a label to apply to myself. Rather, it is an honor to be part of a community that strives to make a better future with the simplest tools of kindness and honesty. Not to mention the food is fantastic!

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

Taiwanese Americans will be recognized as an influential part of the American society. Future generations will uphold the kindness, determination, and eagerness in making progress. Seeing as the 100 Passionate People and the 100 Student Leaders are only a small slice of the Taiwanese American pie, the future sure looks shiny!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Please visit http://lyf.tacl.org/ for more information on TACL-LYF, or join our Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2205253496


Tracy Chou – Software Engineer and Girl Geek

Stanford, CA

I think deeply about the causes I care about — the one that consumes me most now is that of women in engineering, and the implicit sexism that we still face — because I want to make things better.

chou.tracy1Who are you?

I am a Bay Area geek girl. I am a newly minted software engineer out of Stanford University, where I studied electrical engineering (bachelor’s) and computer science (master’s). I am deeply involved in the Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurship scene, having interned at Google and Facebook and now working at a startup called Quora, and I love the excitement of a place where everything is possible. I want to start my own company someday.

What do you do?

Most of the time, I drink coffee, and I write code.

In addition… I read a lot, because I like to learn. I spend time with friends, because what is most important to me in life is the people around me. I think deeply about the causes I care about — the one that consumes me most now is that of women in engineering, and the implicit sexism that we still face — because I want to make things better.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am second-generation Taiwanese American — born and raised in the States. I actually never identified as Taiwanese American until I arrived at college; I started being interested in Taiwanese (pop) culture halfway through high school, but in a predominantly white school setting I felt more Asian, or at most Chinese, than anything else in the context of race. When I arrived at Stanford, though, I was promptly ushered by my “big sibs” into the Taiwanese Cultural Society. That’s when I started to see myself as Taiwanese.

Before then, I didn’t know to be proud of my Taiwanese heritage. I know to be proud now — Taiwan is the land of my parents and it still feels like home to me. I am proud of all the immensely talented people who have come from Taiwan and made a huge impact on our world, in fields as diverse as music (Jay Chou), science (Steven Chu), and technology (Jerry Yang, Kaifu Lee, Jenhsun Huang).

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

What I hope for is that Taiwanese Americans will identify themselves as such, and learn to be proud of their identity. I hope that future generations will stay in touch with the culture of their parents and grandparents, and blend the past in with the present.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Check out Quora! I spend most of my waking hours working on or at least thinking about Quora; such is the startup life.

Quora is a question-and-answer site created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. What amazes me about it is the intensely high-quality discussions on a wide variety of topics, ranging from startups to science to food. I’d love to get more questions and answers going about Taiwan and Taiwanese people! For example, I’ve tried to kickstart a thread here: http://www.quora.com/Why-should-people-of-Taiwanese-heritage-mark-themselves-as-Taiwanese-on-the-census-as-opposed-to-Chinese — it’s a great way to raise awareness of relevant issues.

The site is www.quora.com — If you need an invite, message me at tracy at quora dot com with your email address and I’ll send one your way!

chou.tracy3

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai – Spoken Word Artist

Brooklyn, NY

Being Taiwanese American provides us with a rich history and powerful metaphors enabling us with the capacity to understand multiple struggles around the world.

tsai.kelly4Who are you?

My parents first moved to the U.S. in 1968 and 1969 to Akron, Ohio in the midst of the racial tensions and political unrest going on at that time. My mother was the middle daughter of a politician from Shanghai who moved to Taipei in 1949. My father was the youngest son of an agricultural family that worked in the sugar plantations and refineries in Tainan. My father became a chemical engineer, and my mother after studying social work became a computer programmer. They moved from Ohio to Massachusetts to Illinois. As a child, I was always drawn to writing and performing since it gave me the release, opportunity, and platform to constantly express, define, and re-define who I am in a culture that so often negates the possibility of my existence culturally, politically, and spiritually.

What do you do?

I am a spoken word artist based in Brooklyn, NY. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and got into writing and performing spoken word poetry through a high school English teacher who introduced me to the poetry slam scene in Chicago. Since then, I’ve gone on to perform at over 400 venues worldwide including 3 seasons on the award-winning “Russell Simmons Presents HBO Def Poetry.” I also collaborate with filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, theater artists, visual artists, cultural and political organizations. My first spoken word film, “By-Standing…” was directed by the fabulous Karen Lin and went onto win the Media That Matters Film Festival War & Peace Award. My third film, “Black, White, Whatever…” was a YouTube.com Featured Video and has gotten over 250,000 hits online. I’ve also been listed on AngryAsianMan.com’s 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 and profiled on HBO’s documentary “East of Main Street: Asians Aloud.”

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Being Taiwanese American provides us with a rich history and powerful metaphors enabling us with the capacity to understand multiple struggles around the world. The movement for the self-determination and recognition of Taiwan is not only our story but resonates with the diverse struggles in Puerto Rico, Palestine, and elsewhere. The history of how our people persevered through 2-28 and the White Terror period, the pains of having our history (and language) functionally erased through genocide and censorship, and then reclaimed — is powerful in exploring how the truths need to be told around the world for healing and redemption to be achieved. As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American (and in the case of my family – one side KMT “Mainlanders,” the other side DPP “Taiwanese Taiwanese”), my experience is one of reconciling opposites — ameliorating opposition and making sense of the causes and consequences of conflict.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

We are already EVERYWHERE! Making a big impact in different fields all across the country — so I hope that we can keep our network growing with pride and make sure that 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th generation folks and onward keep doing the knowledge to connect who we are with our histories, legacies, and linkages to Taiwan… and across the pan-Asian Pacific Islander American diaspora, people of color, and diverse communities across the globe. To never forget where we come from and let it powerfully propel us into the futures and possibilities that are forged by our hands, hearts, and movement.

Any additional information you would like to share?

To check out my work as a spoken word artist, visit my official website at http://www.yellowgurl.com for bios, pics, poems, videos, MP3’s, weekly blog, online store, FAQ, and monthly email list. You can also find me on:
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/kztsai
Twitter: @yellowgurlpoet
Facebook: Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

To watch the recently released HBO documentary on the Asian Pacific Islander American experience that I’m profiled in “East of Main Street: Asians Aloud,” watch it online at:
http://www.charter.net/tv/tvonline/play?vid=277730&vendor=hbo

And I’m really craving a roasted yam straight from a night market street cart right about now.

tsai.kelly1tsai.kelly3

Welly Yang – Creator and Entrepreneur

Los Angeles, CA

I create things: from live musicals, to awards shows, to architectural buildings.  I conceive of a project and bring together the pieces necessary to make it come to life.

yang.welly1Who are you?

I am a new father, a husband, an artist, singer, writer, actor, creator, builder, investor, entrepreneur, businessman.

I am known as the founder of Second Generation, a New York based theater company dedicated to bringing Asian American stories to the world’s stage. In the early 90’s, I starred in the original Broadway production of Miss Saigon, playing the lead role of Thuy, and then went on to tour Asia in the title role of Cole Porter’s Aladdin. I’ve been seen in television shows such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, As the World Turns, National Geographic Explorer and Ghostwriter.

In the recent decade, I founded the “Concert of Excellence” to celebrate the achievements of Asian Americans in entertainment, which evolved into the Asian Excellence Awards, a nationally televised event.

What do you do?

I create things: from live musicals, to awards shows, to architectural buildings.  I conceive of a project and bring together the pieces necessary to make it come to life.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My parents and grandparents are my heroes. I often look to them for inspiration. I grew up going to Taiwanese American camps, like TAC and TAF, and later ITASA. The friends I made there were always good people, who I admired and looked up to. Their parents were always hardworking, family loving, and supportive. When I go to Taiwan, I find the same traits and kinship with the people there. What they all have in common is that they are Taiwanese. These people are my heritage.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

A community that pulls together when needed.  A community that is supportive of those inside and outside of the community.  A community that is proud but also humble.

Any additional information you would like to share?

[Added by the editor]

Welly Yang and Dina Morishita sing “Last Night of the World” from Miss Saigon, with members of the Singapore Symphony, conducted by Jason Robert Brown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19AN6ScdkBw

A clip from a popular Taiwanese variety show hosted by Chong Fay in 2004 where Welly Yang sings a familiar Taiwanese tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MyqdEutKAE

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